David Lawrence diagnosed with motor neurone disease

David Lawrence was added to the "Legends Walkway" at Nevil Road Gloucestershire CCC

David "Syd" Lawrence, the former Gloucestershire and England fast bowler, has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND).

A powerfully built fast bowler, Lawrence played five Tests for England as well as making 280 appearances for Gloucestershire, during which he took 625 wickets for the club. In 2022, he became Gloucestershire's first black president.

His diagnosis, announced by the club on Friday, makes him the latest in a line of sportspeople affected by MND, closely following the death of former rugby league player Rob Burrow from the disease earlier this month.

Will Brown, Gloucestershire's outgoing chief executive, said: "Everyone at the club is devastated to hear of the news from David Lawrence and his MND diagnosis.

"David is an icon of the game, a club legend and a trailblazer as the first British-born Black player to play for England. More than that he is the best of people, kind, loving, considerate and an inspiration to all of us here at Gloucestershire.

"Working with him since he has been club president has been both an awesome and humbling experience - he has opened doors we didn't even know were there, helped us learn and become a friend to so many of us. That friendship is a very special thing and one I know we all cherish.

"I know I speak for everyone associated with the club in sending all our love to David, Gaynor [Lawrence's wife] and all of their family and friends."

Lawrence played five Tests and one ODI for England between 1988 and 1992, but suffered what was effectively a career-ending injury aged 28 when he fractured his kneecap as he ran in to bowl against New Zealand in Wellington.

He attempted a comeback five years later, playing four first-class games for Gloucestershire before retiring, but he continued to stay fit and took up competitive bodybuilding in later life.

In 2021, he spoke about his experience of racism at Gloucestershire, for which the club offered an unreserved apology. He has since been involved with delivering the African-Caribbean Engagement Programme in Bristol.

Ian Thomas, managing director of member services at the Professional Cricketers' Association, said: "The PCA is in deep shock at the tragic news David Lawrence has recently received. David has been an inspiration throughout his cricket and post-cricket career and we have no doubt he will continue to fight and show his determination to fight MND.

"The PCA and the Professional Cricketers' Trust, the players' charity, will be here for David and importantly, his family, offering the best possible support."