Sunday 17 December 2017

England cricketer James Taylor forced to retire due to serious heart condition

England batsman James Taylor has been forced to retire due to a rare but serious genetic heart condition.
England batsman James Taylor has been forced to retire due to a rare but serious genetic heart condition.

England Test batsman James Taylor has been forced to retire at the age of 26, because of a "very serious" heart condition.

Taylor, who won his seventh cap in England's most recent Test against South Africa at Centurion three months ago, is to have an operation this week.

The middle-order batsman had to pull out of Nottinghamshire's opening Specsavers County Championship match at home to Surrey because of illness.

Then on Tuesday, the county announced on its website that "specialist scans revealed yesterday that the 26-year-old has the very serious heart condition, ARVC (arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy)."

Taylor's diagnosis is similar to that of former Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba - who collapsed on the field in 2012.

Taylor told his Twitter followers: "Safe to say this has been the toughest week of my life! My world is upside down. But I'm here to stay and I'm battling on! #lifestooshort"

Nottinghamshire director of cricket Mick Newell spoke of the shock of everyone at Trent Bridge.

He said: "Myself and all of James' team-mates and colleagues are terribly sad to hear this news, which comes as a big shock to us all.

"He is a model professional, the most hard-working I've ever known in cricket, making it all the more difficult to accept that his career has been cut short in this way."

England and Wales Cricket Board director Andrew Strauss added: "It is both shocking and saddening to hear that James' career has been cut short in such a sudden and unexpected manner.

"Throughout his career, he has constantly impressed with his determination to make the absolute most of his ability, and it is immensely cruel that such a hard-working player will be unable to fulfil his great potential in the international arena."

Newell, speaking subsequently to Sky Sports News, confirmed Taylor will be having surgery imminently.

"I only know he's having an operation at the end of this week, to help him get back on to as normal a life as possible," he said.

"I don't know how long he'll be in hospital for, or when we'll see him back down here again at Trent Bridge."

Inevitably, as well as making a physical recovery, Taylor faces emotional and mental readjustments that very few will ever encounter.

Muamba is one of small number of professional sportsmen who have had to retire in similar circumstances - including Wales rugby union front-rower Rhys Thomas, also in 2012, and Ireland prop Simon Best.

The former footballer sent his own message, via Twitter: "@jamestaylor having life is a great option. Retirement is inevitable, but for some of us it's just earlier than expected. Enjoy life."

Taylor replied: "Look forward to hopefully meeting you one day mate! #inspiration"

Taylor informed his club on Monday night of the result of scans, and Newell said: "Initially his reaction is devastation that everything he's wanted to do since being a kid has been taken away from him.

"But I think also the realisation that he's alive and can have a long and healthy life has tempered that, to some extent.

"We hope this operation can help James get back on his feet and have a long and healthy life. Certainly we as a county club will look to give James every support."

Former England captain Nasser Hussain added: "The PCA are absolutely brilliant, and Nottinghamshire are a very well-run club who look after their players.

"He won't just be cast into the wilderness. He will be looked after by that club, and the PCA have so many systems in place to look after present players, past players, future players.

"He will get the best."

Hussain acknowledges nonetheless it is immensely sad for anyone to have to give up a career and lifelong sporting ambition.

"He's a top guy, who works so hard," he said.

"He could have become a fantastic England player of the future.

"What's so sad about it is that he was coming to exactly where he's worked for.

"He's worked so hard to get back into the side, almost having to prove people wrong ... and now he's done it, he's been hit by the hardest of blows, and his dream of playing for England, playing cricket, has come to an abrupt end.

"The one thing he's always loved doing has been taken away from him."

Taylor, who began his professional career with Leicestershire before moving to Trent Bridge five years ago, retires with impressive statistics.

The diminutive batsman has more than 9,000 first-class runs, at an average above 46, and has hit 20 centuries.

His List A record is even better, with more than 5,000 runs at 53.11, and in 27 one-day international appearances for England he averages 42.23.

Taylor made his Test debut against South Africa at Headingley in 2012, but after his first two caps that summer he had to wait more than three years to begin to re-establish himself in the team last winter.

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