Bangalore: The generation that mourned O'Neil Gordon Smith, Collie to those that knew and loved him, is nearly gone now, but he remains the ultimate example of cricketing promise cruelly cut short. When Sir Garfield Sobers says that his good friend might have been a better allrounder than him, you listen. Smith's numbers may have been modest, but so much has been written about the brilliance of his debut century against Australia and the two that he made in England in 1957.
I never watched Tom Maynard play. When I first read of the unfortunate circumstances in which he lost his life, my mind went back to Jamaica and a hotel coffee shop. A large man sitting in a chair too small for him, blinking back tears while clutching yellowed newspaper clippings about someone who had been dead nearly 50 years.
Road accidents have spawned several of the game's most intriguing what-might-have-been stories. A couple of years after Smith's death in Staffordshire, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi lost an eye while heading back from dinner with a friend in Brighton. It didn't stop him becoming India's youngest Test captain and the one who helped change a losing culture, but a batting average of 34 in an era when 45 made you special is enough to make you wonder just how exceptional he might have been.