- Tributes have been paid to former cricketer Graham Cowdrey, who died aged 56
- Lord Cowdrey’s son was wonderful company and a batsman of elegance
- Cowdrey, who played for Kent, had personal struggles after his marriage ended
Tributes have been paid to former Kent batsman Graham Cowdrey after he died aged 56
The tributes flowed freely for Graham Cowdrey after his death at the age of 56.
They spoke of his warmth, wit and generosity of spirit as well as his passion for cricket, the sport in his blood.
He was a much-loved player, an attacking batsman who scored more than 14,000 runs in 450 first-class appearances across 14 years at Kent after his debut in 1984.
He was also wonderful company. Quick with a joke or an anecdote from his days in the dressing room, often at his own expense, such as the time Michael Holding removed his teeth with a bouncer or his enduring struggles with leg spin.
‘I am numb with shock and sadness that the brilliant, generous, funny and complex friend who lit up so many cricket grounds has slipped away,’ said former Kent captain Matthew Fleming.
Cowdrey hailed from a famous cricketing dynasty.
His father Sir Colin, later Lord Cowdrey, who died at the age of 67 in December 2000, was one of the England greats.
He was the first to play in 100 Tests, a former captain and a batsman of rare elegance and style.
Brother Chris, the eldest of four children, captained England, too, and Chris’s son Fabian became the third generation of the family to represent Kent CCC.
Graham Cowdrey and his siblings look at the Wisden Trophy won by his famous father Colin
In 1993, Graham married successful amateur jockey Maxine Juster. Maxine became assistant to celebrated racehorse trainer Lady Herries, who was the second wife of Lord Cowdrey, and Graham’s connections to the racing world meant he was renowned for his racing knowledge, as he was for his love of the music of Van Morrison.
He would accompany Warwickshire and England fast bowler Bob Willis to see his idol Bob Dylan in concert on the understanding that Willis would return the favour when Van Morrison was performing nearby.
A statement released by Kent CCC as they reported his death, yesterday, said: ‘Graham will be remembered for the way he played the game: his vibrant personality at the wicket or in the field, with his sense of fun as clear as his competitive passion.’
Cowdrey was known for his sense of humour in addition to his competitive nature
Yet life has been tough for Cowdrey since the end of his playing career.
Despite his privileged start in life, family connections and his popularity among his peers, he was not immune from the pitfalls that follow professional sport.
His business interests began to unravel in 2013 and his marriage came under strain and, when he split from Maxine, he agreed to let her keep the house to look after their three children: Michael, and twins Alexander and Grace, and suddenly found himself without a home or an income.
Family and friends rallied to support him, and the PCA (Professional Cricketers’ Association) were helpful although Cowdrey was often too proud to go on accepting hand-outs for any length of time.
Following the breakdown of his marriage, Cowdrey’s life slid into trouble, almost by accident
He was helped back in the game, as one of the ECB’s cricket liaison officers in 2015.
It was a job he enjoyed and he was back on the circuit. Despite covering only six months of the year during the county cricket season, it offered stability and money to pay rent and gave a leg up out of the worst of his problems.
Cowdrey had been living in West Yorkshire, and when the lockdown delayed the county cricket season, he found work as a delivery driver in the area.
Cowdrey worked as an ECB cricket liaison officers as he was helped back into the game
It is a sobering reminder of how easily lives can slide into trouble, almost by accident.
Graham died on Tuesday after a short illness.
Cowdrey will be remembered fondly by the cricket world after he died following a short illness