English wicketkeeper retires aged 23 due to heart condition

Gloucestershire wicketkeeper Ben Wells has been diagnosed with the same heart condition as James Taylor

Rory Dollard
Thursday 02 May 2024 08:50 BST
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Ben Wells has been forced into retirement with a heart condition
Ben Wells has been forced into retirement with a heart condition (Getty Images)

Gloucestershire wicketkeeper Ben Wells has been forced to retire at the age of 23 after being diagnosed with the same heart condition that ended James Taylor’s career.

Wells was told earlier this month that routine screening had detected arrhythmic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (AVRC), a rare disease which affects the heart’s muscle tissue and can be dangerous for sportsmen. He will step away from the game immediately and is set to have a defibrillator fitted.

Former England batter Taylor, now batting coach with Leicestershire, was 26 when he retired with a similar diagnosis in 2016. The then-international fell ill during the first day of Nottinghamshire’s pre-season match against Cambridge MCCU and was taken to hospital.

Wells has played 25 times for the county across all three formats and hit an unbeaten century in what turned out to be his final professional appearance against Durham in last year’s One Day Cup.

In an emotional open letter posted on Gloucestershire’s website, he wrote: “As tough as it is, this diagnosis has likely saved my life, and in time I hope that I can see it in that light. I’m very thankful to the doctors who have picked this up as soon as they could have.

“I’m very thankful for everything that cricket has given me throughout my life, from the friends I’ve made, the places I’ve been able to visit, and the many memories that I’ve made along the way. Cricket has been a massive part of my life for as long as I can remember, it’s been all I’ve ever wanted to do.

I will always be incredibly proud to be able to say I was a professional cricketer.”

Gloucestershire said: “While everyone at Gloucestershire is devastated for Ben, a hugely talented cricketer with a bright future ahead, we are incredibly grateful to both the club’s medical professionals and those externally who acted quickly to diagnose Ben’s heart condition at the earliest opportunity,” Gloucestershire said in a statement.

“The club, alongside the PCA [Professional Cricketers’ Association], are actively supporting Ben through what is undoubtedly a very difficult time for him and his family.”

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