'Numb with shock': Cricket rocked by icon's tragic death at 56

Graham Cowdrey, pictured here at a Kent photo session in 1998.
Graham Cowdrey poses for Kent photo session in 1998. (Image: John Gichigi /Allsport via Getty Images)

The cricket world is mourning the tragic death of English batsman Graham Cowdrey at just 56.

The son of cricket legend Lord Colin Cowdrey, Graham died on Wednesday after a short battle with illness.

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Graham Cowdrey scored exactly 14,000 runs across his first-class and List-A career with Kent from 1984 to 1998.

He made 21 centuries across his 14-year career, his top score 147 coming against Gloucestershire in 1992.

He worked as a Cricket Liaison Officer for the England and Wales Cricket Board after his retirement.

Graham Cowdrey, pictured here in September 2020.
Hampshire captain Sam Northeast speaks to Liaison Officer Graham Cowdrey in September. (Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images)

“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,” former Kent captain Matthew Fleming wrote on social media.

“We will remember his deep love of cricket and Kent, his commitment as a teammate, his integrity and his wicked sense of humour, his loyalty as a friend and the twinkle in his eye that shaped almost everything he did with the greatest possible affection.”

Impressionist and comedian Rory Bremner, who had Cowdrey as his best man at his wedding, tweeted: “So sad to lose my best friend (and best man) Graham Cowdrey.

“He made me laugh more than anyone else. So funny, kind and generous.

“Great batsman, too. Joins dad in the Pavilion all too soon. Play a Van song for him today.”

Kent said they were “devastated” by the death of their “much-loved former player”, describing him as “a top county professional from a remarkable Kent family, with an infectious love for the game”.

“More than his facts and figures, 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.”

English cricket loses another Cowdrey

Cowdrey’s nickname was ‘Van’ after legendary singer Van Morrison, who he saw live in concert over 200 times.

Cowdrey was part of English cricket’s most famous dynasty, with father Colin captaining his country and playing 114 Test matches.

His brother Chris also captained England, while nephew Fabian played for Kent.

Friend David Buik wrote on social media: “I was devastated to hear of the sad passing of my great friend Graham Cowdrey - just 56 years old.

“No person did more to restore my self-esteem and confidence than he did on my return from Japan.

“He was inspirational in his support. I shall miss him. RIP.”

Fans and the wider cricket community were also quick to pay tribute on social media.

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