TUESDAY’S inquest into Tom Maynard’s death was a sobering warning to cricket and its brightest talents in particular.
TUESDAY'S inquest into Tom Maynard's death was a sobering warning to cricket and its brightest talents in particular. They do, though, have a sport geared to help them.
This week it was revealed when 23-year-old Maynard was hit by a London Underground train he was a regular cocaine and MDMA user.
Ben Stokes’ alcohol-related problems are a long way from that but, as another “future” England Test star, he would do well to heed the warning.
If he wastes his God-given talent, it will not be through a lack of support.
Angus Porter, chief executive of players’ union the Professional Cricketers’ Association, said: “We have six full-time personal development managers, one for every three counties.
“Their only responsibility is to work with the players and educate them.
“Most of what we do on personal development is through those individuals in workshops and one-on-one situations.
“In pre-season we’ll have face-to-face discussions with all the squads. This year there will be a focus on lifestyle and drink.”
The relationship between British sportsmen and alcohol has always been uncomfortably close, but Porter does not believe the expulsion of Stokes and Matt Coles from an England Lions tour highlights a wider problem.
He added: “I don’t think cricket has a cultural problem around drink, but I don’t want to sound complacent. We have 400 professional cricketers and if one of them does something out of line it creates headlines.
“There are probably a dozen people receiving that sort of help from us at any one time out of about 400 professional cricketers, plus the retired cricketers who come to us.
“It’s difficult to say if they’re reflective of society or if they’re different.
“We’ve had one positive test for any kind of doping in the last five years.
“That’s not to say we couldn’t do more testing, but we want to because we have a duty of care, not because we want to punish people.”
England’s former Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan has called on senior players to take more responsibility for wayward team-mates.
Porter said: “Setting the right example is a tradition within cricket and we want to see that continue.
“One of the key things we do is help people spot the warning signs so we’re not just helping them if they have problems themselves, but if they’re worried about team-mates.”
Ultimately, though, as Durham coach Geoff Cook has reminded Stokes, the responsibility lies with the individual.
He said: “You spend a lot of time with cricketers during the summer.
“We don’t want to get into a lecturing mentality. Getting that balance right is one of the knacks of being a coach.
“Ben’s fortunate he has a lot of senior professionals with a lot of experience in and around cricket to learn from.”