How a “very serious” heart condition turned England’s James Taylor’s life upside down

England cricketer James Taylor, 26, announced his retirement due to a 'serious heart problem.'

By: Express News Service | Updated: April 13, 2016 2:34 pm
James Taylor, James Taylor England, England cricket, James Taylor retirement, James Taylor retire, James Taylor cricketer, James Taylor cricket, cricket news, cricket England batsman James Taylor, 26, announced his retirement on Tuesday after being diagnosed with ARVC. (Source: Reuters)

The condition: Medically, it’s called arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, popularly known as ARVC, a disease of the heart muscle. It’s mostly inherited, caused by a mutation in one or more genes. It occurs when the heart muscle in the right ventricle is replaced by fibrous tissue and fat. Consequently, the ventricle becomes thin, causing extreme stress on the heart upon exertion. It can lead to sudden cardiac arrest even in young and fit athletes.

Precedents: Athletes who have succumbed includes Cameroon midfielder Marc-Vivien Foe (28), who fainted during a friendly against Colombia in Lyon in 2003. Other fatalities include Olympic gold medallist gymnast Sergei Grinkov (28), Hungarian forward Miklos Feher (24) and Norwegian swimmer Alexander Dale Oen (26). Some others like Congolese footballer Fabrice Muamba, who was diagnosed with a similar condition when he fainted during a match against Tottenham in 2012, and Spanish goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, were fortunate enough that their condition were lucky to escape sudden death, though their sporting careers ended.

The diagnosis: Taylor’s last international match was against South Africa in January, in the fourth and final Test at Centurion. Taylor, who had cemented his place in the ODI squad while cutting the teeth in the longest version, began the pre-season in the right earnest, turning up for Nottinghamshire against Cambridge University. However, he missed the first championship games of the summer against Surrey at Trent Bridge for what he then thought was a viral condition. But the discomforts persisted and hospital scans discovered that he was suffering from ARVC.

What next? As soon as he was made aware of the condition, he decided to retire from all forms of the game. He will undergo a surgery next week and he posted a picture, in Twitter, of him in the hospital bed and a message underneath: “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.”

Overwhelming support: From teammates to former cricketers and other sportsmen, heart-rending support poured in from within and outside the cricket fraternity. One of the first to console was Muamba, who tweeted: “Having life is a great option. Retirement is inevitable but for some of us it’s just earlier than expected. Enjoy life!”. England team director Andrew Strauss, who was also the skipper when he made his Test debut, led the tribute: “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 give him all the support.” Jonny Bairstow, one of his closest friends, was gutted: “To say I’m gutted is an understatement! A team mate, room mate and one of the best! Your a tough buggar buddy, stay strong!”

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