Test Match Sofa
Tom Maynard - a tribute
By Andrew Hignell
There was never any doubt that Tom Maynard, born just nine months after his father Matthew’s Test match debut would, one day, be a professional cricketer. From a tender age, the youngster was part of the furniture at Glamorgan Cricket, joining his father in the changing rooms or out in the nets, almost intuitively learning what to do with the bat in his hand – the tool that subsequently became part of his trade, and all at a time when other boys of his age would be content just to mess around with toys. In the fitting, and touching, words of former Glamorgan captain Steve James: “The lovely kid who was always in our dressing room grew into a man who would have played one day for England. How can he be gone so soon?”
Born with the same competitive instincts as his illustrious father, Tom showed enormous potential as a batsman for junior Welsh and English sides, scoring hundreds from his early teens before joining the Glamorgan staff and showing the same potent mix of cavalier strokeplay, charisma and enormous flair which Matthew had displayed during his playing career with the Welsh club from 1985 until 2005. Indeed, on his maiden innings for the Daffodil county - against Gloucestershire in a one-day game at Colwyn Bay in 2007 - it looked as if Tom might emulate his father’s achievement of scoring a hundred on debut. Whereas Matthew had scored 102 against Yorkshire at Swansea, Tom was dismissed for 71, but those present at the Rhos-on-Sea ground that day six years ago were left in no doubt that here was a batsman who meant serious business.
Two years later, Colwyn Bay was the scene of Tom’s maiden hundred for Glamorgan, and it came in some style too, during the Pro40 game against Northamptonshire, as the young tyro raced to his hundred with a fusillade of firmly-struck boundaries, reaching three figures from just 57 balls – one less than his father’s best-ever effort for Glamorgan - and, for once, leaving Matthew bereft of the bragging rights!
Another century followed against Lancashire at Old Trafford in the Pro40 in 2010, while last summer, on his return to Welsh soil in Surrey’s ranks, he compiled a graceful and magisterial hundred – his first in the County Championship - against his former colleagues at the SWALEC Stadium. By the end of last season, Tom had amassed over 1,000 first-class runs as the South London club gained promotion into Division One of the Championship, besides playing a key role in Surrey’s success in the Clydesdale Bank 40, with his forthright efforts in the middle-order helping to bring silverware to his new county.
These performances, both for Glamorgan and Surrey, had brought him to the attention of the England selectors and, at the end of the 2011 season, Tom’s talent and flair was rewarded with a place in the England Performance Programme squad, in addition to selection during the winter months for the England Lions on their tour to Bangladesh. In fact, many shrewd judges believed that Tom was a better player at the same age as his father.
Tragically, Tom will never step up to the international arena, nor will he wear an England cap. Like other stars from the world of sport, music and drama whose lives end prematurely, we are left to wonder at what Thomas Lloyd Maynard, judged to be among the best of his generation, could have achieved in Test matches, one-day or Twenty20 internationals. English cricket may well be the poorer for Tom’s absence at the highest level, and his death, aged just 23, in the early hours of June 18, has certainly robbed the game of one of its most brightest young talents.
Within hours of his death, there was a spontaneous outpouring of grief from the world of cricket, as well as from Welsh sport in general. Indeed, Tom had been at Whitchurch High School in Cardiff in the same year-group as Welsh rugby captain Sam Warburton and, despite being thousands of miles away on tour with the national side in Australia, the Welsh skipper found time to pay tribute to his former school chum. A host of tributes were also paid by Glamorgan players, with the most eloquent and moving coming from two of the club’s captains – past and present – with Steve James and Mark Wallace using their columns in The Daily Telegraph and Western Mail newspapers to write about their former colleague and friend.
Steve James, the man who had hit Glamorgan’s winning runs when they won the County Championship at Taunton in 1997, was among the first to pay tribute to the youngster who, as usual, had been with him and the rest of the county’s players in the Somerset dressing rooms, toasting the Welsh county’s success fifteen years ago. “Tom had been playing cricket on the outfield since he had been able to walk. We had all thrown balls to him at some stage. It was always obvious that he was going to be a cricketer. He idolised his father. He stood just like him at the crease; he threw just like him in the field. Considering Matthew was the most naturally-gifted domestic cricketer I played with or against, it was no bad style to copy.”
“Tom was a special batting talent of modern-day muscularity. I have little doubt that he would have played for England, particularly in one-day cricket. Indeed I suspect that he might have been handed a debut in the one-day international against Scotland later this season. It is often easy to overplay the talents of one lost so prematurely, but not in this instance. The strength of young Maynard’s achievement was merely going to be a case of how that talent was harnessed.”
“For all his lovable roguishness off the field, he was, just like his father, a serious cricketer. Despite his inexperience, he possessed a remarkably active and astute cricket brain. He was also a proud cricketer. He left Glamorgan on a point of principle when he felt that his father had been badly treated. Cruelly, we are left to wonder what might have been. But what was clear on the day of his tragic death was the absolute affection in which Maynard was held in both the Glamorgan and Surrey dressing rooms, as well as in the cricketing world in general. Cricket has lost a wonderful talent, and, more importantly, a wonderfully likeable young man.”
Mark Wallace, Glamorgan’s club captain in 2012, was equally fulsome in his praise of the well-mannered 23-year-old. “Tom may have ended up playing at Surrey but he never left Glamorgan in spirit, and he never will. It is just so tragic how someone with so much talent, so much potential and such an insatiable appetite for life can no longer be with us. As a cricketer, the world was his oyster, he was at the start of an exciting journey where the possibilities for him were endless because he could play - really play.”
“Tom was a fixture in the Glamorgan dressing room before he was out of nappies and, by the time I arrived there as a 17-year-old, he was part of the furniture. I suppose he was like a little brother to a few of us for quite a while. Even then he had more confidence than I’ve ever had and, as he grew into a member of the first team in his own right, that confidence would turn into a natural presence that is gifted to very few.”
“He was a leader from the moment he started playing and even as a youngster he had the ability to inspire those around him with an act of brilliance or a selfless deed for the team. And that was Tom, it never seemed to be about him. It was never about him off the field either and it’s clear to see by the outpouring of grief, both within cricket and beyond, that his infectious personality has been felt by so many.”
Tom Maynard’s funeral will take place on Wednesday July 4, at 12 noon, at Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff.
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