sport

Cricket mourns death of Maynard

One of the brightest prospects in English cricket, Tom Maynard, died on Monday morning at the age of 23 when he was hit by a train in London.

Surrey batsman Maynard was struck by a London Underground train just after 5am near Wimbledon.

It is thought that the Cardiff-born player may have been trying to avoid police when he died.

The big-hitting batsman turned professional at his home county Glamorgan five years ago and averaged 32.65 in first-class cricket.

He travelled to Bangladesh with the England Lions and was being tipped to follow in the footsteps of his father Matthew, who earned 18 international caps.

Hugh Morris, managing director of England cricket, led the tributes to the player, claiming Maynard was destined for greatness.

"He had the world at his feet. I played with his old man when he played for England and Tom was very much on that pathway," he said.

"In many ways he was very similar to Matthew.

"He was an incredibly talented cricketer. He played for the Lions in the winter. He impressed all the coaches there. "They liked him as a person and as a player and to have his life cut short in this way is an absolute tragedy."

Maynard, a likeable and charismatic player at Surrey according to members of the club, played for the county in their Twenty20 game in Kent just 14 hours before he died, scoring seven runs.

Maynard began this season in fine form, making his highest first-class score of 143 against Worcestershire, and may well have got his first England call-up later this year.

British Transport Police (BTP) confirmed around midday today a 23-year-old man, named locally as Maynard, died after being hit by the train as it entered Wimbledon Park station after leaving Southfields.

It later emerged that Maynard appeared to have been trying to escape the police.

Officers tried to pull over a black Mercedes, which was being driven "erratically", an hour before Maynard's body was found on the tracks.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: "At approx 4.15am on Monday, 18 June, officers stopped a vehicle after it was seen being driven erratically in Arthur Road, SW19.

"The male driver of the vehicle - a black Mercedes C250 - made off on foot.

"Officers were unable to locate the man.

"At approx 5.10am the body of a man fitting the same description was found on tracks near Wimbledon Park station."

The BTP added that it was not treating the death as suspicious.

"BTP officers were called to the line near Wimbledon Park London Underground station on Monday, 18 June after a man was struck by a District line train," a BTP spokesman said.

"The incident was reported to BTP at 5.03am and was also attended by Metropolitan Police officers.

"London Ambulance Service medics attended but the man, believed to be 23 years old, was pronounced dead at the scene.

"The incident was reported to BTP at 5.03am and is currently being treated as non-suspicious.

"A file will be prepared for the coroner."

Leading figures from within the sport reacted with sadness on Twitter.

Surrey and England batsman Kevin Pietersen led the tributes on the micro-blogging site, saying: "So unbelievably sad!! The Maynard family is so special!! Thoughts are with this special family!! Loads of love guys!! KP xxx úRIPTom"

Former Glamorgan team-mate Simon Jones said: "Don't know what to say or do, bruiser you'll be sorely missed, you were a special special person and talent! Love you bro."

The death leaves a shadow hanging over England's NatWest Series game against the West Indies tomorrow at Surrey's home, the Kia Oval.

England team director Andy Flower called the team together to inform them of the news at 10am today and Surrey paceman Jade Dernbach had to pull out of the squad on compassionate grounds.

It is anticipated that the players will wear black armbands, and there will also be a minute's silence as a mark of respect to the player before tomorrow's game.

Surrey's flag above the pavilion at the Oval was at half-mast today and Wednesday's FriendsLife t20 game against the Hampshire Royals has been postponed.

It is the second time a tragedy has hit the London-based club in just over 10 years.

In March 2002, promising England all-rounder Ben Hollioake was killed in a car crash in Australia.