Worcestershire players have expressed their sadness at former New Road academy player James Taylor being forced to retire with a heart condition at the age of 26.

Taylor spent three years as part of the County's academy and often played in the Seconds under the captaincy of Daryl Mitchell.

The England and Nottinghamshire player also played for five years at Shrewsbury School in the same cricket team as current Worcestershire vice-captain Joe Leach.

Current first team skipper Mitchell said: "He came through our Academy and we played quite a lot of second team cricket together and I played against him in more recent times for Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.

"I know him pretty well and is devastating news. He is a fine player but more importantly a great bloke as well.

"It is certainly a quiet dressing room at the moment.

"I was the senior player in the second team and did a lot of the second team captaincy when 'Titch' first came on the scene.

"He was a good prospect back then and has gone onto do some great things.

"He has played at the highest level and would have had a long England career ahead of him judging on his performances in the last couple of years.

"It is a devastating blow for the whole cricket family."

Leach said: "I am gutted. I was at Shrewsbury School with him. He was a year above me. I knew him really well. We used to travel to Academy sessions together.

"He was and still is a close mate. I am struggling to put things into words but am gutted for him knowing how much hard work he has put in.

"He has been like a role model really and dragged me on through my teens to become better and better.

"We played five years together in the same team at Shrewsbury School, batted a hell of a lot together and grew up together in may respects from 13 to 18-19 so I am absolutely devastated for him.

"He is as genuine, hard-working and as honest bloke as you could find."