It’s always sad to see a professional athlete’s career being cut short by injury or illness.
This week it was announced that James Taylor, the England batsman, was to retire immediately from all forms of professional cricket after being diagnosed with a very serious heart condition. By all accounts there were no previous symptoms and it was discovered during routine checks after he felt ill during a county match for Nottinghamshire last week.
Taylor will be devastated, his career shot down in it’s prime in the blink of an eye. At the age of 26 it will be difficult for him to process the fact that he won’t ever play professional cricket again. On the positive side, a potentially deadly condition has been spotted and he can now receive the treatment required to live a long life. If the condition had not been discovered we could have seen a terrible tragedy on the field of play so while his family will obviously be sad for James that his career is over they will be overcome with relief that he can now receive the medical treatment he needs to be healthy and be around for them.
It’s easy for us on the outside to say that he should be happy he got diagnosed and his career being over is just a consequence of having a serious medical condition, but to Taylor it will be so much more devastating and hard to come to terms with.
His career ends virtually on the spot, how does he process that? All the guy has ever done is play Cricket, it’s probably all he knows and it will be tough despite the relief he is alive.
I can in some ways relate to Taylor’s situation. My own cricket career was end by the dreaded “yips” but rather than it coming to an abrupt end like Taylor’s, mine was a slow demise but just as devastating. You wonder what you are going to do with your life, you question yourself, you question others, you beat yourself up asking yourself if you could have done anything different so that this situation never occurred. While my career ended due to a mental issue, Taylor’s has ended due to a physical condition which may in some ways make it slightly easier for him to accept. And he did achieve the ultimate in playing Test Match cricket for his country and no one can ever take that away from him.
Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club is a fantastic club. I spent 2 seasons there during the “yips” period and they did all they could to help me so I’m sure they will be there for Taylor during this time. Back in my day and from my own experience the Professional Cricketers Association (PCA) weren’t that great when it came to emotional support for any pro or ex pro going through hard times but from what I’ve seen and heard the PCA are now absolutely fantastic at supporting their members and I’m sure they will give Taylor any help and support required to get his life back on track after dealing with such devastating news.
I hope Taylor keeps his love for the game and that he stays involved in it in some capacity but it’s hard to say if that will happen as being around the game you love but can no longer play can be upsetting but with the correct support system I’m sure we will see him again, maybe in a coaching capacity. He appears to be a bubbly, upbeat character and that will hold him in good stead for the journey ahead.
All the best James!!!