Tom Maynard: cricket star undermined by toxic lifestyle
There may be more cricketers with a drug habit fuelled by soaring wages
TOM MAYNARD, the promising young cricketer who was high on cocaine and ecstasy when he was killed by a train, was probably not the only professional cricketer to be taking drugs, says former England captain Michael Vaughan. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Vaughan argues that of the 400 professional players in England "there are bound to be more who have taken drugs in the past or are still doing it now".
Vaughan's theory will soon be put to the test, as cricket bosses have announced they will step up testing for recreational drugs after the inquest on Maynard, 23, who died on a train line while fleeing from police last June. The coroner at the inquest, which heard that the Surrey batsman had taken cocaine almost daily for several months before his death, called for more testing in cricket, including hair sample analysis.
Vaughan hopes that increased spot checks will encourage more young cricketers to "clean up their act". Last season, Somerset's Pakistan spinner Abdur Rehman tested positive for cannabis during an in-competition test and was handed a 12-week ban.
While welcoming tightened scrutiny by cricketing authorities, Vaughan also calls for senior players to take a lead behind the scenes. "You need mature personalities in dressing rooms," he writes. "Players who can spot the night owls and keep them out of trouble. It worries me that this did not happen at Surrey."
Although Vaughan does not believe there is a "big drug culture" in the game, the former Yorkshire batsman warns that soaring wages are placing young players at the mercy of dangerous "distractions". He argues: "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."
He adds: "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."
Another ex-England captain, Mike Atherton, reveals in The Times that "rumours of the kind of lifestyle enjoyed by Surrey's young players had long been doing the rounds". For a long time, says Atherton, cricketers simply weren't paid enough to support an expensive drug habit. "That is changing now, and with greater rewards come attendant risks. "Money and adulation come to sportsmen before full maturity, and often at time of great professional stress."
The only answer, Atherton concludes, is education "at home, at school and in professional environments". ·