London: Nottinghamshire and England batsman James Taylor has been forced to retire at the age of just 26 because of a “very serious” heart condition, his county announced on Tuesday.
Taylor, who won the last of his seven caps in England’s most recent Test against South Africa at Centurion three months ago, withdrew from Nottinghamshire’s opening and ongoing County Championship match at home to Surrey because of illness.
The Midlands county announced on its website on Tuesday that “specialist scans revealed yesterday (Monday) that the 26-year-old has the very serious heart condition, ARVC (Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Arrhythmia).”
Taylor, whose condition requires surgery, 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.”
His diagnosis is similar to that of former Bolton Wanderers footballer Fabrice Muamba, whose career was cut short after he collapsed on the pitch in 2012.
England and Wales Cricket Board director Andrew Strauss, Taylor’s first England Test captain, said: “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.”
Taylor’s absence from Nottinghamshire’s first-class match against a Cambridge student team last week was put down to a viral condition.
– ‘Model professional’ -Nottinghamshire director of cricket Mick Newell said no one at Trent Bridge had any idea about the severity of Taylor’s condition.
“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,” 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.”
Former team-mates and opponents took to Twitter to voice their sadness, with current England batsman Moeen Ali saying: “Such bad news to hear about a top player @jamestaylor20 what a talent. Wish you all the best in your recovery! Topguy.”
Meanwhile Michael Clarke, the former Australia captain, said: “Really feel for @jamestaylor20 Absolutely devastated for you.”
Born in Nottingham, the diminutive Taylor — the son of a jockey — made his first-class debut for Leicestershire in 2008, with the middle-order batsman making his Test bow against South Africa at Headingley four years later.
But after those first two caps in 2012, he had to wait more than three years for another Test appearance.
Recent months had witnessed some of Taylor’s best international performances, including impressive displays as a close-in fielder.
Although his seven Tests, in which he averaged a modest 26, did not yield a hundred, with his top score of 76 coming against Pakistan in Sharjah in November last year.
Taylor also made 27 one-day international appearances, averaging 42.23, with his lone century scored against Australia at Old Trafford in September.
His first-class career saw Taylor score more than 9,000 runs, at an average of over 46, including 20 hundreds.