England lost left swinging bowler Reece Topley for the entire T20 World Cup four days into the tournament opening.
After rolling his ankle while training on the pitch before the last warm-up match against Pakistan in Brisbane on Monday, Topley was unable to play the World Cup. He will be replaced by Richard Gleeson or Tymal Mills, rhythm throwers who are among the traveling reserves with the English team in Australia.
Topley pulled his ankle as he trained on the pitch ahead of the last warm-up match against Pakistan, which they had won by six wickets, in Brisbane the day before. The left arm rhythm thrower suffered the injury standing on the border advertising cushions – known as Toblerones for their shape – with his ankle landing awkwardly.
England expected Topley to be evaluated ahead of Saturday’s opening tournament against Afghanistan in Perth. But the results of an injury scan confirmed fears that his tournament might end before it even starts. It would only be Topley’s second World Cup, having played in the 2016 T20 World Cup.
Losing Topley is a blow to both the player and his team. The 28-year-old has been cursed with an injury in recent years, sustaining four stress fractures to his back, but has resurfaced beautifully in 2022, winning 17 wickets in the T20 since he returned to the team in the summer. He also had an excellent year in one-day internationals, winning 13 wickets in seven games. Injury means he hasn’t been involved in a global event since he appeared at the 2016 T20 World Cup at 22.
In England’s T20 configuration, Topley is particularly appreciated for his flexibility as a bowler. He is skilled in bowling in all three phases of a T20 inning: the powerplay, the middle overs and the last five overs. His height and left arm angle also provide an important dimension to England’s attack; Curran’s slippery trajectory is a stark counterpoint to Topley’s height.
Mills has tournament experience, having played well at last year’s World Cup in the UAE, but hasn’t played cricket since August 10 due to injury. Gleeson has also had recent injuries, but played two games on the Pakistan tour last month and impressively began his life as a late-flowering international cricketer this summer.
But Mills has a far better record in Australia’s T20 cricket than Gleeson, which could count in his favor.
That Mills is a left arm – and thus a more similar replacement – is unlikely to be a major factor as England already has Sam Curran and David Willey in their squad.
Mark Wood, Chris Woakes, and Chris Jordan, as well as Ben Stokes, are the team’s other bowling options.
England are already without Jonny Bairstow and Jofra Archer for the tournament due to injury.