James Taylor the Nottinghamshire and England batsman, has been forced to retire from cricket with immediate effect after being diagnosed with a serious heart condition.
Taylor originally withdrew from last week’s fixture against Cambridge MCCU with what was believed to be a viral condition. However, specialist scans revealed on Monday that the 26-year-old suffers from ARVC (Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy).
Taylor’s diagnosis is similar to that of former footballer Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed on the field during a FA Cup tie between Bolton Wanderers and Tottenham Hotspur in March 2012. He will undergo an operation in the coming days, during which he will have a defibrillator fitted in order to slow his heart rate when required.
“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,” Mick Newell, Nottinghamshire’s director of cricket, said. “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.
“It goes without saying that he has the very best wishes of us all in terms of recovering from his operation, and that we are looking forward to seeing him back at Trent Bridge when he is fit and able.”
Muamba offered his support to Taylor over Twitter: “Having life is a great option. Retirement is inevitable but for some of us it’s just earlier than expected. Enjoy life,” he posted.
According to the British Heart Foundation, ARVC is an inherited condition that causes the walls of the heart muscle to become stretched, inhibiting blood flow and usually becoming progressively worse over time. As well as causing palpitations, light-headedness and fainting, it carries a risk of sudden death due on exertion. It is not curable but most of the symptoms can be managed using medicine.
Taylor is currently being treated in hospital in Nottingham and is expected to undergo an operation on Thursday or Friday. It is understood he took himself to A&E after being sent home from the university game.
Andrew Strauss, the England team director, 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.
“The ECB will work closely with Nottinghamshire and together we will do everything possible to help James through this difficult period, and aid him in his recovery.”
David Leatherdale, the chief executive of the Professional Cricketers’ Association, also expressed his shock at the news and added that the organisation, through its six-strong team of Personal Development Managers, would work closely with Taylor in the coming months to aid his adjustment to life after cricket.
“Our thoughts are with James as he comes to terms with the end of his cricket career at such a young age and at a time when he had established himself as an international cricketer,” said Leatherdale. “The PCA will support James in any way that we can, to ensure that the transition to a new career is as smooth as possible.”
Taylor had long been tipped to make it to the very top of the game, having won the Cricket Writers’ Club Young Player of the Year award in 2009, aged 19. He made his ODI debut in 2011 and played two Tests against South Africa in 2012 but had to wait a few more years to become a regular in the England set-up.
His height, at 5ft 6in, presented another challenge for him to overcome, not least because of doubts expressed by some that he was too short to play international cricket. However, he impressed on returning to the ODI side in Sri Lanka in 2014 and finally got another chance in the Test middle order on England’s tour of the UAE in November.
Taylor played the last of his seven Tests at Centurion during England’s victorious 2-1 series win in South Africa in January, where he played a key role with his catching at short leg. He also featured in 27 ODIs, including the 2015 World Cup. His solitary international hundred came against Australia at Old Trafford in September 2015.
At county level, his ability was never in question. Having broken through at Leicestershire, he moved to Nottinghamshire ahead of the 2012 season, in search of Division One cricket and a chance to nudge the England selectors. His leadership qualities were recognised by Notts when he was made limited-overs captain in 2014; he also led England in a washed out ODI in Ireland in 2015.