The former international cricketer says golf has changed his life after a rare heart condition forced him into early retirement

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Meet The Ex-England Cricketer Turned Scratch Golfer Defying The Odds

On April 12, 2016, English cricketer James Taylor received life-changing news. At the age of just 26, he was diagnosed with a rare heart condition, bringing his career as an England international to a premature end. 

In what was a shock announcement, Taylor revealed he had arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), a potentially life-threatening illness which affects the right ventricle of the heart and can be exacerbated by vigorous exercise.

It’s a condition similar to the one that led to Fabrice Muamba’s retirement from football, after the former Bolton midfielder collapsed on the field during a 2012 FA Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur. 

However, not content to let that define him, Taylor turned to golf as a way of satisfying his competitive juices, and has now reached a milestone in the sport many amateurs aspire to but few achieve.

“Four and a half years ago I set a goal to reach scratch,” the tweet begins. “After my diagnosis, golf was the only sport I could play and is the only sport I will ever be able to play competitively. 

“Golf has changed my life – become my exercise, my release and my physical challenge. Time to set a new goal.”

Taylor scored more than 9,000 runs in 139 first-class cricket appearances, averaging over 46 runs per innings and making 20 centuries, so it’s clear the 31-year-old has a natural sporting ability and hand-eye coordination.

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And as well as being a scratch golfer, Taylor remains heavily involved with cricket, becoming a full-time England selector in 2018 after a stint in broadcasting with the BBC’s Test Match team.

But what’s far more significant than hitting a handicap target or receiving 34 caps for your country is the impact golf has had on Taylor’s life. 

Retirement is often a hurdle that can pose sports men and women the greatest challenge, so for Taylor, who was forced out of cricket against his will and at such a young age, to retain such a positive and ambitious outlook is beyond admirable.

Whatever his next goal is, you wouldn’t bet against him reaching it in double-quick time.