Tom Maynard and the Common Humanity of Cricket

It's a horribly over-used word these days but Tom Maynard's father Matthew was, without doubt, a Glamorgan icon. If you have anything to do with anyone who supported the Welsh county between 1985 and the early years of this century, it's a fair bet that their favourite player, and in many cases a real idol, will have been Matthew Maynard.

A bloke I once worked with who'd served in the St.Helens bar in the days when the big summer crowds still used to pack the ground would talk in reverential terms about Matthew Maynard coming down the fabled Swansea steps and punishing county bowlers till they dropped. The Manic Street Preachers even wrote a song (the dreadful 'Mr.Carbohydrate') which featured him.

He was, of course, Nicky Wire's 'favourite cricketer'.

For all the competing qualities of Hugh Morris, and Steve Watkin, and Steve James, and 'Basil' Barwick, and of course Robert Croft, Matthew Maynard was, in Glamorgan terms, the man.

Which is one of the reasons why so many of those he worked and played with over those years spoke and wrote so feelingly yesterday when his son died at the age of just twenty-three. In most cases they'd seen him grow up and were waiting with anticipation for him to really blossom. He was part of the Glamorgan family.

I can offer no personal recollections of Tom Maynard. I never saw him play in the flesh; only bits and pieces on TV where he stood out as a young, muscular, virile strokeplayer in the modern idiom who, in the world of T20, would probably have gone far. The recollections and memories are left to those who knew him and watched him; as has been said, through his childhood and adolescence and early adulthood at Glamorgan, and, more recently, at Surrey, a club which has had more than its fair share of crosses to bear.

This is the common humanity of cricket. It is trite, but true, to say that cricket reveals character in ways that other games can't approach, with the result that it is possible to feel that you know people more deeply than you really do. And you care.

As George Dobell wrote in his finely balanced obituary of Maynard on Cricinfo yesterday, 'the cricket community is not large'. The point might seem oblique when the game is followed by millions, but in modern Britain, with the more garish charms of football always apparently in the ascendant, you know exactly what he means. Those of us who are part of that community - players, officials, journalists, bloggers - instinctively stick together.

When one of us dies tragically young, we bleed.

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