Tom Poynton prepares for life after cricket
It is the moment that all professional sportsmen face but for Derbyshire's Tom Poynton, it came far sooner than he could have expected.
The 26-year-old wicketkeeper this week announced that he had been forced to end his playing career because of the injury he sustained in the car accident that took the life of his father, Keith, in 2014.
Poynton missed all of the 2014 season after undergoing surgery on his right ankle and although he played in every game in 2016 up to and including the County Championship match against Kent at the end of June, the injury had flared up again.
The medical prognosis was not encouraging. Faced with the prospect of causing further problems later in life if he tried to carry on, the former England Under-19s player decided to quit the game.
Poynton said: “I knew something was not right with my ankle but to hear that was a shock.
“I tried playing through it but if I continued to put the same stress and strain through it the chances of my having a lot more problems in later life are greatly increased.
“I’m only 26 and I’ve got to think about my long-term health, so that’s what made the decision easier in a way. To an extent, the decision was made for me.
“I don’t dwell on things and the accident made me that way. You can wallow on what’s gone but it wouldn’t do me or anybody around me any good to do that.
“I’m still alive. I’ve got a life to lead. I haven’t got a terminal diagnosis or anything.
“When you start out you think cricket is the be-all and end-all of everything and if you nick off for nought it’s the end of the world but sport is not life and death. I’ve had a bit of real life and death perspective thrown at me.”
Poynton accepts that he will miss the camaraderie of the dressing room but, having taken a personal development scholarship through the Professional Cricketers’ Association, is ready to embark on a new path.
“Cricket has been my life since I was about 10,” he added. “I’ve never had a summer before and I don’t know what to do with it. It is going to take some adapting to.
“The changing room environment is unique. Nothing is going to replace that in my life but it’s time to make a new career now.
“When you are at the beginning of your career all you see 15 or 16 years as a professional cricketer ahead of you but all of a sudden you have a bad last year of contract and you are staring down the barrel.
“I’ve seen too many players come to the end and not know what to do next but there is a life after cricket and I have that perspective now. If I can use my experience to help others then I would love to do that.”