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Ex-Arsenal man reveals cricketers are seeking help in wake of Maynard inquest

13:36 28 February 2013

Tom Maynard. Photo: Stephen Pond/EMPICS

Tom Maynard. Photo: Stephen Pond/EMPICS

EMPICS Sport

Former Arsenal and England defender Tony Adams has revealed in the aftermath of the inquest into Tom Maynard’s death that other professional cricketers are being treated at his Sporting Chance clinic.

A coroner’s report revealed Surrey batsman Maynard had taken cocaine and ecstasy before he was killed on a train track last June, and had been a regular user. The 23-year-old was also nearly four times over the drink-driving limit after a night out.

Professional Cricketers’ Association chief executive Angus Porter does not believe the problem is widespread within cricket.

But Adams revealed cricketers are among a wide range of sportsmen to have been treated at the clinic, which he established following his own battle with alcohol addiction, and called on associations to “take responsibility” and look after players’ welfare.

Adams told the Independent: “We are already putting cricketers through the Sporting Chance Clinic, rugby players, jockeys. Denial is strong in some other associations but all in good time, when they are ready.

“The PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association) are taking responsibility. The RFL (Rugby Football League) are taking responsibility. They are recognising it and if you do want help, there are places where you can go now. That’s a big change.

“Sixteen years ago, when I got sober - and this is why I started the charity - I had nowhere to go, no-one to talk to, no-one to point me in the right direction.

“Certainly in football now, at the PFA now, within one hour they can get someone to talk to you with the network of counsellors we have got.”

Tests on hair samples indicated Maynard may have been a daily user of drugs in the three and a half months before his death, the inquest at Westminster Coroner’s Court heard.

Former Warwickshire all-rounder Paul Smith, who detailed his long-running drug use in his 2007 autobiography ‘Wasted?’, admits the case is “not entirely surprising”.

Smith, a member of the 1994 Bears team which won the County Championship, Sunday League and Benson & Hedges Cup, told The Times: “I suppose there are similarities of sorts: a young, talented sportsman, living the dream, living in the city, exciting times, aren’t they? It’s not entirely surprising, is it?

“Once it is in your system, it is very difficult to control and once you stop caring about the tests or the consequences, it becomes very dangerous.

“You just wish that you could put an old head on young shoulders, or maybe distil years of experience and pass it on. Tom never had that chance, that’s the tragedy.”

Maynard’s housemate Rory Hamilton-Brown and fellow team-mate Jade Dernbach, who had been drinking with him on the night of his death, both told the inquest they were unaware of the former Glamorgan batsman’s drug use.

And Smith admits he managed to hide his addiction even while socialising regularly with his team-mates.

Dermot Reeve, the captain of that side, revealed his cocaine addiction after his retirement - and admitted he once commentated on Channel Four under the influence of the drug - while wicketkeeper Keith Piper served a ban after testing positive for cannabis.

Smith said: “We had a very social team at Warwickshire, a hard-drinking team which was part of the cricketing culture at the time. But if we went back to the hotel in the early hours of the morning, I would often then go out on my own again.

“I never did lines of coke in front of team-mates. I kept things separate, my cricket life and the rest.

“There may have been behavioural changes, but I don’t think anybody at Warwickshire was looking particularly hard for them.”

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