June 25, 2012
Having read some of the moving tributes to Tom over the last few days, I feel under huge pressure to make sure I do him justice in the next few paragraphs. Then I thought about it, there is nothing about Tommy I could write that could make him sound other than fantastic, as a player, a teammate, a friend but above all as a bloke.
When I got the awful news, soon after waking up on Monday, I went numb. I couldn’t comprehend the news, if I’m honest I still cant. Then it hit me, sitting in a café in Clapham, I burst into tears. My phone had run out of battery so asked them to charge it up, when I got it back, the news was publicly announced and it was going crazy. He had died. For a moment I looked around with blurred vision and couldn’t understand how people were getting on with their life, did they not know?
I can’t even imagine what his family have been through over these past few days. I have never properly been introduced to Matt, Sue or Ceri and I’m not going to claim I know them. However what I do know is how close they were as a family, I only hope they can draw comfort from the unbelievable response of the public. I have read so many messages from friends, fans and people who had never even met him which shows what an impact he had in his 23 years.
When he arrived at Surrey 18 months ago we headed into preseason as rivals, we were both competing to try and get into the championship side. I had played against him a few times, but we didn’t know each other that well so it was always going to be an interesting battle. On the first day of pre season he pulled me to one side and said, “listen bud, we are very similar players and I can see myself competing with you for that middle order spot, whatever happens lets work hard together and be happy for each other no matter what happens”. I was blown away, and of course he went on to play every game for us and have a fantastic year. I will never forget what he said to me that day.
Tommy had an unmistakable presence. Even the first two T20 games this season he missed because of an injury, you could tell he wasn’t there. I can’t bare to think about what it’s going to be like walking into the changing room without him being there. Despite him being 2 years younger than me I would always turn to him for advice about anything, he was so approachable. I have to walk past his spot to get to mine and to listen to another one of his stories and hear his infectious laugh was always a great way to start the day.
We will never know how far he could have gone in the game, but what I know is that he had the hunger, desire and commitment to go with his undoubted god given talent to go all the way to the top. I was lucky enough to see him play the sort of innings that would turn games on their head and play shots that I could only dream of.
Surrey are no strangers to tragedy, with Graham Kersey, Ben Hollioake and now Tom being taken away from us. I have to take this opportunity to mention how good both Surrey and the PCA have been in the past week in assisting us in this terrible time. Saying its going to be an emotional few weeks, months and years is a ridiculous understatement. The guys are hurting, and why wouldn’t they be we have lost our mate, role model and the life and soul of the party! But, its not just us, he has brought the cricketing world to its knees. The guys at Glamorgan will be in the same position as us, as will so many players around the country because of the person he was.
Yesterday I was looking through my phone to see if I had any pictures of us together, nothing. All I found was the video of our team song after winning the CB40 final last year, that’s all I need. He was on the table, conducting the boys, belting out our team song into an empty Champagne bottle whilst throwing out some of his trademark dance moves.
Everyone will have there own memories of Tommy to treasure and I feel so lucky to have so many. You will be sorely missed.
Rest in peace mate x