Far too many of us take life for granted. It's only as the years roll by that we're reminded of our own mortality, as more and more of our friends and relatives pass away. For every death that's expected, due to declining health, there's another that leaves us lost for words. Tom Maynard's death falls into the second category. Surrey have been there before, with the loss of Graham Kersey at the end of 1996 and Ben Hollioake at the beginning of 2002. But the sight of a once-occupied corner of the dressing room isn't something the players have had to come to terms with during a season. As Alec Stewart said to me, when I bumped into him up at Edgbaston: "It's something these lads have never had to deal with before. Most of them still have both their parents." While it came as a shock, I was, at the time, in fact I am still, coming to terms with the death of a friend and work colleague, who was just 52 when he died of a heart attack back in April. In same way Tom approached his cricket, my friend Stephen embraced the challenges that life throws up with both confidence and courage. It's an even bigger blow to lose a role model.

Perhaps it isn't surprising, given Tom's death and the retirement of Mark Ramprakash, that most of the people I talk to consider Surrey to be short of batting. I still say our bowling blows hot and cold more than it probably should. This was no better illustrated than in the championship loss at home to Warwickshire. At one end Gareth Batty claimed a match aggregate 10 for 142, while, at the other, Dernbach, Jordan, Lewis and Meaker took a combined four for 262. Warwickshire look nailed out to take the title, so it was no shame to lose to arguably the best side in the country. That Surrey went toe-to-toe with them for much of that contest, indeed that they matched all their championship opponents up to that that point, should have been cause for optimism.

I'm not sure whether the Warwickshire defeat knocked the stuffing out of us or if we totally under-estimated Sussex, having beaten them at the start of the season. Either way, the boys just weren't at the races at Horsham. At one stage in their first dig, Sussex were 87 for six. But, somehow, they recovered to post 351, with James Anyon hitting a couple of sixes on his way to a career best 64 not out and Monty Panesar rubbing it in with 31. After the match, I waited a full hour to grab a few minutes of Chris Adams's time on behalf of the Surrey Mirror. Sadly, we'll never know whether what he said to the players made any difference because, just eight days later, the Club was in mourning.

Surrey got off to an unconvincing start to the Twenty20. Even though it was a case of played two, won two, we collapsed twice batting first to be 31-3 against Essex and 32-4 against Middlesex. But I would challenge any team to turn that sort of form around immediately following the loss of such a key component. In describing Tom Maynard, I always find myself referring to him as an integral player, which is a big compliment given that he'd only been at the Oval for little more than a year when he died. Was Mark Ramprakash an integral Surrey player after such a short period of time? Not really. Will Vikram Solanki be? Let's wait and see. The effect that Tom's death has had on Rory Hamilton-Brown is, while utterly understandable, a further indication that it could take years for Surrey to turn things around and become a force on the pitch once more.

It would have been nice to see the boys take their defence of the Clydesdale Bank 40 further, but when you look at the semi-final draw, you have to say both matches should be classics. So, we're left clinging to one remaining hope - that Surrey can avoid relegation in the County Championship. With three rounds of matches to go, one more victory ought to be enough to stay up.

While the 2012 season will be remembered for Kevin Pietersen's run-in with the England hierarchy, I do hope, in Surrey terms, KP won't be remembered for his first-ballers against Hampshire. As he showed at Guildford, he is arguably the most destructive batsman in world cricket. Having been smacked for 234 by KP, I don't suppose Lancashire are looking forward to the re-match. Surrey travel to Liverpool for the last game of the season, which, as things stand, could decide who stays up and who goes down. But let's hope it doesn't get that far.


Free JavaScripts provided
by The JavaScript Source