It would be naive to think Tom Maynard's is an isolated case

There will be players in cricket who have taken recreational drugs and are still doing it but Tom Maynard’s tragic story will make them stop.

Published: 01st March 2013 08:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st March 2013 08:52 AM   |  A+A-

If there is one positive to come out of this it is that young players realise the dangers associated with taking drugs and systems are put in place in county dressing rooms to nip this kind of thing in the bud because we have seen with Maynard how something which seems harmless and a bit of fun can spiral out of control.

There are around 400 professional cricketers in England. It would be naive to think Tom’s is an isolated case. There are bound to be more who have taken drugs in the past or are still doing it now.

We are never going to have a clean game because of the stresses the players live under. They are young men and need a release but you have to hope Maynard’s death has acted as a wake-up call.

The England and Wales Cricket Board is going to introduce more testing for recreational drugs and that will frighten a few to clean up their act.

The Professional Cricketers’ Association will also work on educating players and this week is holding a seminar with academy players which will address lifestyle choices. But testing and education can only go so far. County dressing rooms need their own form of self-regulation led by senior players.

You need mature personalities in dressing rooms. Players who can spot the night owls and keep them out of trouble. It worries me that this did not happen at Surrey. There will be a few people at the club close to Tom who will now have regrets. They may have seen him in situations when he was not behaving the way you expect and a few will be wishing they had spoken out.

This is where role models are important. They do not have to be experienced players. Alastair Cook was behaving like a role model at 22.

Joe Root is similar now. But the experienced players are the ones who can spot something before it starts. A dressing room needs mature players who do the right things, play hard and know the boundaries you do not cross.

There was a lack of those players at Surrey 12 months ago but next summer they will have Ricky Ponting and Graeme Smith. Two men who are exactly the right kind of role models for young kids making their way in cricket.

I was brought up in county cricket in the 1990s. At Yorkshire we trained hard but there was a drinking culture. Seven pints the night before a Sunday League match was not uncommon. But I never once heard cocaine mentioned. I do not know of it ever being offered.

But cricket reflects society and times have changed. The drinking culture has largely gone. Power and speed is everything these days and you cannot drink seven pints and stay sharp.

But young county players now have a lot more money and if we are going to put 22-year-olds on six-figure salaries, which is happening in county cricket now, we have to be aware it comes with new dangers.

There are plenty of distractions and opportunities to take on a different lifestyle, particularly for those playing in London. Tom got himself mixed up with the wrong world.

I feel for his family. Tom was a great kid. Not one person I have spoken to has a bad word to say about him. We heard in court yesterday how he was described as a warm, fun personality always looking out for others.

He lost his life in the most tragic circumstances and I fear Tom’s memory will always be linked to drugs. I hope people realise he was a good kid who lost a bright future.

I do not believe there is a big drug culture in cricket. And the drinking of my early days has largely gone now. The game is more professional. Fitness, power and speed are everything.

Most dressing rooms manage to police themselves but we have had an awful reminder of what can happen when these barriers are not in place.

You do not want to stop young players having fun and make them live like nuns but lessons have to be learnt from what happened to Tom.


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