James Taylor, the Nottinghamshire and England batsman, described his world as having been turned "upside down” following his retirement from all cricket because of a serious heart condition.
Taylor, 26, capped 34 times by his country and part of the Test side that won in South Africa over the winter, will undergo an operation in Nottingham later this week to have a defibrillator fitted, having been diagnosed witharrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy(AVRC).
The condition, which medics have said is similar to that of the former Bolton footballer Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed during a match at White Hart Lane in 2012, sees the right-handed batsman now coming to terms with the fact that he can no longer play professional sport.
Writing on Twitter, Taylor said: "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!”
The news was announced on Tuesday morning before the third day of Nottinghamshire’s championship opener against Surrey at Trent Bridge, with messages of sympathy for the popular Taylor pouring in on social media from team-mates and opponents around the world.
County and international team-mate Stuart Broad, who started his cricket career with Taylor at Leicestershire and is a close friend, wrote on Twitter: "Cruel news but he’s one of the strongest guys I know with a brilliant family around him.”
"It is both shocking and saddening to hear that James’ career has been cut short in such a sudden and unexpected manner,” added England’s director of cricket and former Test captain Andrew Strauss.
"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.”
Taylor, who played seven Tests and 27 one-day internationals, and captained England against Ireland in May last year, had felt unwell following his club’s pre-season tour to Barbados at the end of last month, which medical staff believed was linked to a virus that had affected the squad during the trip.
He returned to play a three-day first-class match against Cambridge University last week. After batting on the first day, Tuesday, he reported light-headedness and a high heart-rate the next morning during the team’s warm-ups and was sent home to recuperate.
That evening, Taylor took himself to his local accident and emergency unit at City hospital in Nottingham, accompanied by his girlfriend and mother, with tests then subsequently undergone to determine the problem.
On Monday it was determined he suffers from AVRC, an inherited disorder which can increase the risk of abnormal and sometimes dangerous heart rhythms. It is difficult to detect even with screening; cardiac arrest, as in the case of Muamba, is often the first sign that the condition is present .
The England Wales Cricket Board has said that its medical team is already undergoing a review into cardiac screening for players, which began prior to Taylor’s diagnosis, with county professionals currently screened at 20 and 23 years.
The Nottinghamshire director of cricket Mick Newell, who informed his players of the news on Wednesday morning, stated that Taylor’s last screening had taken place in 2013 and that until his recent symptoms, there had been no sign of any underlying problem.
Newell said: "Ultimately he’s the fittest boy on our staff – he’d be No1 on our fitness scores in every category – so rarely do we have to worry about in terms of illness or sickness or anything like that.
"I think the initial devastation of being told he’s not going to play cricket again has been tempered by how grateful he is to be alive, really. [The doctors] are telling him that quite often they don’t find out about this illness until it’s too late and they have found it. So that’s a good thing.”
Taylor, a 5ft 6in batsman with more than 9,000 first-class runs and career best of 291, began his career at Leicestershire before moving to Nottinghamshire in 2012 to further his England ambitions.
The son of a former National Hunt jockey, Taylor made his Test debut against South Africa in 2012, earning two caps, before breaking back into the side against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates last November following a three-year absence.
In limited-overs cricket, his List A average of 53.11 is the fourth highest of all time and while he struggled to hold down a regular place in a competitive England line-up, he averaged 42 in one-day internationals, scoring his maiden century against Australia at Old Trafford last summer.
Newell 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.
"In the short term it might be quite painful for James to come and watch cricket and be involved. But there’s no reason he can’t be involved in cricket in the future. He’s a bright kid from a good background.”
Strauss added: "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.”
"We ask that the privacy of James is respected as he comes to terms with the situation and focuses on his recovery.”
Taylor, who has also been offered support by the Professional Cricketers’ Association as he now considers his post-playing career, exchanged messages with Muamba on Twitter on Tuesday.
The former England Under-21 midfielder is one of a small number of professional sportsmen who have retired in similar circumstances, along with Wales rugby union front-row Rhys Thomas and Ireland prop Simon Best.
Muamba wrote: "@jamestaylor having life is a great option. Retirement is inevitable, but for some of us it’s just earlier than expected. Enjoy life.” To which Taylor replied: "Look forward to hopefully meeting you one day mate! £inspiration”
Courtesy : theguardian.com