I had just finished my lunch today in Doha, Qatar while working for Al Jazeera Sport when I discovered the tragic news that Surrey cricketer Tom Maynard had died. My initial reaction was one of complete shock and disbelief. Firstly because the hot prospect in domestic cricket had been taken from us at the age of 23, but mainly because for the past several months, I have been saying to a good friend of mine (who is a Surrey CCC fan) that Maynard is a fantastic talent and should be in the England squad without any second thought. I don’t know what it was, but every time I watched Maynard, I had this overwhelming sense of appreciation for the game. I love cricket, but when Maynard came to the crease, I became extremely excited by what he had to offer. As a Kent fan, there’s the stereotypical view that we should not like Surrey, and therefore we should not like any of their players, but I’m a realist and I look at cricket in the view of the benefit for the sport.
Tom Maynard was a fantastic cricketing talent. His technical ability was one many cricketers in the current domestic game can only imagine having. He was the classic British batsman. It was solid, straight bat, but the ability to cause some damage with a combination of fantastic strokeplay, and extravagant shots. Many of you may question my reason for writing this, but I had such an admiration for Maynard as soon as he burst onto the scene with Glamorgan, that his passing seems almost unreal. I can’t begin to understand the grief his family and close friends must be experiencing at this moment, and I’m not trying to. I react emotionally to any deaths which shock sport, with Espanyol’s Daniel Jarque and former Wales manager Gary Speed as examples.
Maynard death is a devastating story. Whatever the inquiries may unveil in the coming weeks, it’s important to remember that just under 12 hours before, Maynard had been playing what was his last ever professional cricket match. Nobody could have predicted what would happen. On Monday 18th June 2012, Tom Maynard was pronounced dead by the Metropolitan police after his body was found on train tracks at Wimbledon Park Station. It is believed Maynard was hit by a train, and possibly electrocuted before being hit. The sad part of this story is that Maynard was being chased by police after he was seen driving “erratically” in the early hours of Monday morning. A man fitting Tom’s description then got out the car and ran off on foot. Just over an hour later and his body had been found.
I think what makes his last game even more memorable for me was that it was against my home county Kent in a t20 on Sunday 17th June 2012. I had the absolute pleasure of chatting to Maynard on the boundary when he was at Glamorgan during a one-day game a couple of years ago, and he seemed like a lovely young man who really enjoyed every second he spent on the field of play. He played with a smile on his face. My greatest memory of him was last year though. Thursday 14th July 2011. It was Kent vs Surrey in the domestic t20 competition and Kent had the chance to ruin Surrey’s chances of qualifying. Kent won so I was a happy cricket fan, but there were two particular innings that really stood out for me that day. Jason Roy hit 53 and Tom Maynard scored 36 off 27 balls. I remember saying to my Surrey friend that day - “Maynard is going to be a big big player mate” – he certainly had the qualities. It wasn’t a titanic innings. But it was a well-constructed, exciting innings that really swung the balance of the match in Surrey’s favour at that time.
A young man had a fantastic future in domestic and international cricket ahead of him. It’s a shattering story of how quickly a life can be taken. Tom Maynard was 23, and gave domestic cricket in England a real purpose, along with many other cricketers. One of Maynard’s close friends and teammates Roy tweeted “Cant believe im writing this. R.I.P Tom Maynard,one of my best friends.You will always be in my heart and will miss you so so much.”
The sad part of all of this, is that we will now not know how far Tom could have excelled in the game, what more he could have offered to the cricket, and what impact he would have made when he made his England debut.
Words cannot begin to explain how or why this happened. It’s a tragically sad day for English cricket. I didn’t know you personally, but I certainly would have relished the opportunity to get to know you. You have really inspired me as one of the best domestic cricketers I have seen these past couple of years. Rest in Peace Tom Maynard and thank you for everything you gave to life, and to cricket. You will be missed by every cricket fan across the country.