Tribute: Tom MaynardEwen Day-Collins |
The poignancy of this harrowing tale is perhaps heightened by the painful sense of a lost talent. Tom Maynard was, by all accounts, prodigiously gifted. With a growing reputation and improvement occurring rapidly, he most certainly would have graduated to the England side. This until his life was so cruelly taken away on Monday morning, at the age of just 23.
It is at times such as these that we are told tragedies, such as this, put cricket in perspective. We are told cricket is only a game. However, cricket is much more than a simple game, and that is why the devastation from this news, still raw, is so intense. Cricket is a family, not a large one, but a close one.
This was shown when players from both sides wore black armbands during Tuesday’s ODI between England and West Indies. The flag fluttered at half-mast. A minutes silence was observed prior to the game’s start. These simple gestures all symbolise a profound respect, empathy for Maynard’s family and friends ? including Jade Dernbach, who left the England squad on compassionate leave.
It is not surprising cricket was Maynard’s path. Attending Millfield School, a pre-eminent sporting academy where his close friend and club Captain Rory Hamilton-Brown, among others, was educated, his focus would have been totally on sport. Considering his father was former Test player Matthew, it appeared a natural progression.
Tom Maynard began his professional career with Glamorgan, the only County outside England, located in his native Wales. Under the management of his father, head coach at the club, he was not particularly successful – despite smacking 71, with three sixes, on debut – yet always showed hints at future productivity. His overall first-class average for the club, 21.38, is poor. However, his composure, his clean hitting, his intelligent and adroit play suggested a latent potential.
This potential developed at Surrey. When his father disputed with his Glamorgan superiors and was subsequently sacked, Tom followed him out, moving to London, to the Oval.
On the flat wickets of south London in 2011, Maynard’s batting prowess was finally exposed. His average for his second, and ultimately last club, is considerably improved, at 42.48; raising his overall first-class average to a modest 32.65. With a particular talent for striking cleanly down the ground, he impressed especially in Twenty20 cricket, scoring a club-best 392 runs last season. This led to him being bought to play for the Sylhet Royals in the Bangladesh Premier League. He was very much capable in all formats, though, passing 1000 first-class runs for Surrey in 2011, a crucial part of the promotion-winning side.
The England Lions squad, consequentially, awarded Maynard a place; this included a tour to the subcontinent along with other nascent, fledgling talents, so as to develop and progress as all-round batsmen. The next step would have been full international level.
Tom Maynard will not only be remembered for his batting, however, but also for himself: a genuine, polite, affable man. Team-mate Chris Tremlett wrote on Twitter that it is “such a sad loss to everyone who knew him … Absolutely gutted.” Former Glamorgan player Steve James, who played alongside Tom’s father, wrote: “The lovely kid who was always in our Glamorgan dressing room grew into a man who would have played for England. How can he be gone so soon?” This overwhelming feeling of grief, but also of shock, has penetrated through cricket’s core.
That Maynard played for Surrey compounds the tragedy. The club that, through road accidents, lost wicketkeeper Graham Kersey in 1997, and Ben Hollioake – who, like Maynard, attended Millfield School – in 2002, seems to experience unrelenting grief. The mood this season at Surrey will surely replicate that of 1997 and 2002: sombre and grave.
The quiet, discreet setting of Wimbledon Park station – close to where Maynard’s body was found, having fatally stumbled onto a live train line at 5.00am on Monday morning – seems to be too peaceful for this saddening tale, belying the powerful devastation this death has caused. His is a life so full of promise, yet so upsettingly short. Cricket, a close family, will continue to mourn this young cricketer. And, as the flag flutters at half-mast amid the silence, may Tom Maynard rest in peace.