Drakes Huddersfield League and Yorkshire cricketer Matthew Wood is actively involved in supporting now-retired England batsman James Taylor.

The abrupt end to Nottinghamshire batsman Taylor’s playing career because of a serious heart condition shook the cricketing world and stunned his first-class colleagues.

Taylor is already receiving backing from the Professional Cricketers’ Association and from Emley’s Wood in particular.

Former Emley, Honley and Kirkburton batsman Wood is one of six Personal Development and Welfare Managers on the staff of the PCA, whose headquarters are at Edgbaston, and because he has special responsibilities for Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire he has already made contact with Taylor.

In an interview with Examiner correspondent David Warner, part of the ECB Reporters Network, Wood said: “We have been in touch with him and will offer him support throughout his recovery period and give him all the help he needs in the future.”

One of the main aims of the PCA is to offer whatever support is necessary to all current professional cricketers and prepare them for that time ahead when their careers are at an end and they face being pitched into the outside world.

This can be a daunting prospect, but the PCA is there to help and Wood is ideally suited to his role.

He had over 12 years in the game as a professional cricketer and he knows from personal experience how difficult it can be when the runs start to dry up or the wickets stop toppling and the future suddenly has an uncertain look about it.

Wood, who played for Yorkshire from 1997-2007, enjoyed several golden summers on his way to 6,742 first class runs with 16 centuries, plus 3,270 List A runs with five centuries, but he also had to cope with some worrying losses of form, so he knows at first hand just how valuable it can be to have someone to turn to who knows what’s going on in a player’s mind and can lend a guiding hand.

After he finished his Yorkshire career all too prematurely, Wood spent a couple of years on Glamorgan’s books before returning to his native county and played Drakes Cricket.

“I stopped playing cricket three years ago,” said Wood, who was 39 in April and lives in Kirkburton.

“I chose to play golf instead (at Woodsome Hall) and spend more time at home. I get my cricket ‘fix’ now from Monday to Friday at work with the PCA!

“I have worked for them for five years and enjoy the very diverse role of Personal Development Manager.

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“My work is centred around Lancashire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire (as clubs) and my role includes covering future players at Academy level and providing winter workshops for those preparing to be a professional as well as current, retired or released players.

“Our aim is to help players off the field with the demands brought about by first class cricket so they can get the most out of themselves on the field and also to assist in the safe and smooth transition out of the game when they finish.

“Players who are actively learning new skills away from the game report less anxiety about what the future may hold, which benefit their state of mind.

“Our Benevolent Fund is a valuable asset to all PCA members, especially past players, and it helps people out financially if they are in poor health or experiencing unfortunate circumstances.

“The PCA part fund education and courses for its members and pay for all members coaching badges up to Level 3, which is brilliant.

“My day-to-day role includes visiting current players and working alongside them in a variety of ways, sometimes just listening and sometimes challenging them at a personal level.

“I help them carve a future career with up-skilling opportunities and create personal development plans while making sure they maximise their playing careers and ambitions.

“We at the PCA also visit past players who may need support in their new careers and our confidential helpline is crucial if players feel they need extra professional help.

“Health and well-being are at our core and helping players through the challenging environment of professional sport means they can enjoy the game – and also life after the curtain falls.”

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