England and Nottinghamshire middle order batsman James Taylor has today been forced to retire at the tender age of 26.
'Titch' as he is affectionately known as due to his diminutive stature missed Notts' pre-season match last week due to what was thought at the time as an innocuous virus.
It was only when his heart started to race and he began to feel light headed during his trip from Cambridge to Nottingham with teammate Jackson Bird did something feel not quite right.
But still, little did he know at the time that he had indeed snuck his last quick single. But a routine scan revealed that Taylor has Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy.
The condition that is often inherited affects muscle tissue within the heart, which leaves cells detached meaning one of the four chambers in your heart thins and stretches.
Put simply it means the former England batsman's heart has to work that much harder to get blood to around his body. And boy has it had to work hard as he turns to make those simple ones into unlikely twos during his illustrious career.
Just last week the talented batsman was preparing for another long season looking to stamp his authority on the international scene starting with runs in the opening fixture of the season against Surrey at Trent Bridge.
Instead, he is being forced to watch his team on a stream from his hospital bed as he prepares for a potentially life-saving operation. It is immensely rotten timing for the man who has scored 9,306 first class runs during his time with Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire respectively.
Taylor had just enjoyed a decent tour of South Africa with England and had just finally banged down the door at international level. He was becoming a reliable mid-order batsman in the England One-Day set-up will perhaps be remembered more for his unbeaten 98 against Australia in the World Cup rather than his century against the same opponents a few months later.
His 98, in a losing cause, showed his determination and class as batsman fell around him, indeed, he was robbed of a World Cup century by a wrong decision. In one of the most bizarre endings to a cricket match, Taylor was given out leg before only for the Aussie to run James Anderson out. By law as soon as the umpire’s finger went up the game should be brought to a standstill. Taylor reviewed the decision and was proved to be right in that respect as the ball was missing the stumps, but by then it was all academic as his number 11 had run himself out.
He was so often Mr. Reliable for Nottingham scoring a bucket load of runs for the Outlaws in both First-Class cricket and List A cricket, and his teammates, who were given quite a scare in Cambridge are just relieved their friend and colleague is in a stable condition.
Steven Mullaney, who is a close friend to ‘Titch’ dedicated his century to his former housemate, has expressed his deep sadness at losing a teammate of his ilk, but also revealed he was just pleased to still have him around.
He told Cricinfo, “He was a lad who had the world at his feet and unfortunately it has been taken away from him but we are just glad he is still with us and we will give him our full support."
Sport, like life, can be so cruel, and the timing of this news can’t come at a worse time for Taylor. He had just broken into the international team, and indeed captained his country against Ireland in a recent ODI game. He was making a name for himself in the test side too, especially for his run-making and fine catching and short leg.
But the heart is an organ not to be messed with, just ask former Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba, who suffers from the same condition.
He was quick to take to social media to offer his sympathies tweeting the former England one-day specialist this piece of advice.
He said, “‘having life is a great option. Retirement is inevitable but for some of us, it's just earlier than expected. Enjoy life.”
It is a great shame that Taylor’s enjoyment of cricket will now have to be firmly from the beyond the boundary, but it is widely expected that Titch will take on a role at his adopted county Nottinghamshire, so I am sure that this isn't the last we will see of James Taylor, but for now, thanks for the memories Titch, go well mate.
Written by David Bowden (@Bowdenwhu
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