After a winter of freak injuries, a fast bowler is ready to play for Surrey and the Hundred..
Reece Topley is expected to play for Surrey in a 50-over match against Suffolk next week,
Reece Topley is expected to play for Surrey in a 50-over match against Suffolk next week, followed by a full stint with the Northern Superchargers in the Hundred, as he begins his comeback from a string of injuries that kept him out of both the T20 World Cup in Australia last year and the IPL this year.
Topley, 29, went to Australia in October expecting to play a crucial new-ball role in what turned out to be a triumphant event for England, who went on to become the only men’s white-ball team to hold both the 50- and 20-over World Cups at the same time.
Instead, when warming up for a practice match against Pakistan in Brisbane, he trod on a boundary marker and had to travel home for ankle surgery. After being signed by Royal Challengers Bangalore for INR 1.9 crore (about £190,000) for his first IPL stint, Topley bowled just two overs against the Mumbai Indians before landing heavily in the outfield and suffering a dislocated right shoulder.
“I knew I was going home,” Topley said, recalling the April event at the Chinnaswamy. “When I was sitting in Bangalore with my humerus bone in front of my pec, all I could think was, Wow, how quickly can I get home to have surgery?'” It wasn’t like I was going to hang around or anything. It was simply, “Let’s get out of here.”
Now, however, he’s on the mend, and given his extraordinary physical attributes—a 6’7″ frame capable of generating pace, swing, and bounce from an awkward left-arm angle—his recovery will be closely monitored by England selectors as their focus shifts from the ongoing Ashes to the white-ball series against Ireland and New Zealand in September, ahead of this winter’s 50-over World Cup defense in India.
“The Hundred is almost like end-stage rehab, I guess,” Topley said at the Tottenham launch of the KP Snacks community cricket pitch initiative. “Of course, I’ll look to put in some good performances, and I’ll want to do well for the Superchargers because we’ve got a great team that wants to win it all.”
“But then there’s obviously New Zealand and Ireland,” he adds. “Those games will be crucial in the run-up to the World Cup.” I understand that the conditions are slightly different, but 50 overs is something we don’t play very often anymore, so game time in an ODI will be crucial. So I’ll try to play those and come back up to speed as soon as possible.”
Topley was at the pinnacle of his game almost exactly a year ago, most notably with a spectacular haul of 6 for 24 against India at Lord’s, the greatest figures ever achieved by an England bowler in a men’s ODI. He annihilated India’s top order once more in the following match at Old Trafford, and while England were unable to win that game, his performance meant that he was in high demand at the ensuing IPL auction in December, where he garnered bids nearly three times his base price.
The fact that Topley is suddenly in such high demand—especially after an injury-plagued career that included four stress fractures between 2016 and 2020 and the genuine fear that he might never play again—has helped him compartmentalize the frustrations of this year’s freak setbacks and double down on rehab to ensure he’s ready for whatever opportunities come his way.
“It has gone really well,” he stated. “Obviously, it’s never nice to be injured, but the nature of the two injuries I had this year, you can spend a lot of time soul-searching and asking why, but I think you just have to get on the front foot and deal with it, and almost take a typical British attitude, stiff upper lip, and crack on.”
“I suppose you flip it [on its head] and ask yourself what you’re going to achieve if you don’t get started?” I’m really looking forward to getting back out there. I’ve bowled extremely well when I’ve played, so the fact that I’ll be playing again and getting out there excites me.
“When you’re out there, you get a lot of gratification; you love the fact that you’re playing cricket, rather than just showing up and thinking it’s another game.” So let’s hope this is the start of a very good summer and winter, especially with the World Cup on the horizon.”
Topley will return to India for his second World Cup campaign, assuming he can prove his fitness for the rest of the summer. He was a member of the squad that reached the World T20 final in Kolkata in 2016, where Carlos Brathwaite famously hit four sixes in a row off Ben Stokes to steal the trophy from England’s grasp.
“I suppose it’s nice to have people who have experienced that kind of heartbreak, especially in such an emotional place as India,” Topley remarked.
“When you’re playing, everyone’s emotions seem to be running high, whether you’re on one side or the other of the boundary rope.” However, there will be some new faces in that group. There are a few stalwarts and constants, but even the newcomers have IPL experience. So I don’t think there’s anything that will surprise anyone.
“I’m very excited.” There’s a lot of disagreement about 50-over cricket, but when a World Cup is on the horizon, there aren’t many other things you can say you’ll prioritize over 50-over cricket.
“It’s a nice run-in with the Hundred, but those ODI series against Ireland and New Zealand will be about getting into the XI for October.”
“From a personal perspective, I’ve had some success, and it’s really about emulating that, but I wouldn’t say I’ve stayed still,” he continued. “I’ve been injured, but it’s been a time to work on my own game and learn some new things, because they say if you stand still, you’ll get overtaken, so it’s about adding more strings to my bow.”
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