Rory Hamilton-Brown has revealed that he almost walked away from cricket after the death of his best friend and team-mate Tom Maynard. The all-rounder took a lengthy break from the game and resigned as Surrey captain after the tragedy in June.
Hamilton-Brown and Maynard were school friends at Millfield and were then reunited at The Oval when Maynard arrived in south London from Glamorgan in 2011. Maynard's death this summer cast a huge shadow over English cricket and Hamilton-Brown admits that it hit him so hard that he doubted he could go on playing.
"There were times, immediately after it happened, that I considered it," he says. "But the fact I've carried on shows just how much cricket does mean to me.
"I came back in August but it was tough. I was a little bit in the clouds and because I hadn't played many games I didn't have any time to go through my bad period and get back into it.
"I've re-prioritised obviously since what happened and the first thing I want out of my cricket is to be happy. It's no secret that cricket can be all-consuming and your mood is sometimes completely tied to how many runs you get and how many times you win.
"I've become a lot clearer on what I want to get out of life. You realise that one facet of your life – although it is the biggest facet – can't consume every day of you and can't spill into your family life. I'm hoping to take positives out of what happened but it will obviously remain a terribly tragic event."
Hamilton-Brown is now looking to rebuild his career on the south coast with a second spell at Sussex. The county's seaside home represents a far more tranquil alternative to Kennington and there's no doubt in the 25-year-old's mind that he has made the right call, despite leaving Hove under something of a cloud to become the youngest captain in Surrey's history in 2010.
"In my mind it became the only option really," he says. "It was an easy decision in that if I was going to move forward in my career I was going to find it very hard to play at Surrey.
"Other than playing for England, captaining Surrey was my ultimate dream from when I was about eight. It wasn't a job I was ever going to turn down, although I left Sussex with a heavy heart because I had had such a great time here. It was the only job that would have taken me away from Hove at that time."
Discounting this season, Hamilton-Brown can head south knowing he leaves Surrey in a far stronger position than he inherited.
"The reality was that Surrey was a huge club but the year before I came they had been effectively one of the worst counties in the country," he says. "It was a Man United side in stature but it needed a lot of work, it wasn't like I was walking in and captaining the best side in the country.
"The year before I got there we were last in everything so I'm very proud of what we achieved in quite a short space of time. It [the captaincy] does take its toll. It's not an easy job because you're not just captaining on the pitch at a big club, there's a lot of off-the-pitch stuff to do too.
"Big clubs want results today, and that can be quite a difficult thing when you walk into a job like that as a 22-year-old."
Hamilton-Brown will head to the US in November for two months of intensive physical training before returning to Sussex in the New Year. He hopes it will usher in a new chapter of his career. So what would his great friend make of his latest move?
"I hope he would be happy," says Hamilton-Brown. "But the sad thing is I'll never know the answer."Reuse content