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Kings of Anglia Issue 9 Magazine Offer

Don Topley: Extreme highs and lows of professional cricket summed up in Reece’s story

PUBLISHED: 12:44 07 August 2018 | UPDATED: 12:44 07 August 2018

Reece Topley in action for Hampshire before injury struck again. Picture: HAMPSHIRE CC

Reece Topley in action for Hampshire before injury struck again. Picture: HAMPSHIRE CC


In his latest column, Don Topley shares the story of his son Reece, a professional cricketer who is battling once more with a serious back injury.

The night before serious back surgery Reece Topley met 140 under 12 cricketers at the Minor Counties Cricket Festival. Picture: BENTLEY PHOTOGRAPHICThe night before serious back surgery Reece Topley met 140 under 12 cricketers at the Minor Counties Cricket Festival. Picture: BENTLEY PHOTOGRAPHIC

The last three weeks illustrate the extreme highs and lows of professional cricket for a 24-year-old cricketer from Suffolk.

After an excellent RL 50 Over white ball campaign with eventual winners, Hampshire, my son Reece was also perfoming well for the England Lions in their Tri-series with India and West Indies ‘A’.

He had just taken 4/16, a career best v West Indies ‘A’, in front of the England selectors. Later that night, Reece was informed he was in line for an England recall.

Potentially. he was to replace the injured Tom Curran in England’s t20 Squad with India and would probably fly up to Manchester to join Eoin Morgan’s team the very next day after the Final Tri-Series fixture with India ‘A’ at the Oval.

On the morning of the Tri-Series final, Reece informed the physio and bowling coach that “it feels like a bad back day.” Having suffered a number of injuries to the back, it is fair to say Reece knows his back well.

Reece didn’t have his greatest bowling display that day as he felt pain during his four average overs as India ‘A’ showed their class.

An urgent scan was arranged in London and two hours later it was confirmed that Reece had another stress fracture at L4 – there was to be no England recall.

As a parent it is simply heartbreaking to witness your son go through this, but clearly it must be much worse for Reece himself.

Reece immediately visited non-invasive back specialists and surgeons as he has done previously after now suffering three stress fractures at L4 and two at L3.

Reece Topley in his hospital bedReece Topley in his hospital bed

The two at L3 have always healed beautifully but the ones at L4 seem to not. The highly regarded medics think that there is some leakage of synovial fluid from the joint below into the fracture of L4 and this fluid prevents good cell/bone regroweth.

The result was Reece endured serious back surgery just ten days ago, with a pin screwed into his joint at L4 to ensure the stress fracture closes up.

Reece spent a few days getting his head around the procedure and importantly planning another strength and conditioning comeback for next winter – both mentally and physically.

Mum Julia accompanied Reece up to the Wellington Hospital - ironically adjacent to Lord’s Cricket Ground - and stayed with him for a couple of days. I stayed behind and managed my annual Minor Counties Cricket Festivals back in Suffolk. That was a bit emotional and strange as I was watching 12-year-olds enjoy playing county cricket, thinking how Reece was one of them some 11 years ago – and now he was under the knife.

I am pleased to report the surgeon seems pleased with his work and commented that with Reece being 6ft 8in, he had “a large back to work with, with much space.”

However upon our initial meeting with the eminent surgeon, he shocked us by confirming that the company that makes the titanium screws went out of business some 18 months ago and all the excess stock has been used up. So the surgeon is using a different screw with less favourable results.

Of the latest six back surgeries to professional bowlers, four have worked quite well, but two didn’t and had to be opened up again. I am not a betting man but I was concerned about those odds!

In his eight years as a professional, I am always the cautious or perhaps realistic, one, as I know the game inside out, having played it professionally.

His mum, Julia, is always extremely positive with her cup not just full, but overflowing. Well, she is his mum!

Nine days on from the operation, Reece is up and about walking gingerly and hopes soon to be allowed into the swimming pool.

There will be no running for some four months, even walk throughs of a bowling action wont happen until around Christmas.

No date has been set for playing potential cricket matches – he will simply take a slow return to the game and when he is right.

Ipswich Town goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski discussed being left out of the team by former boss Paul Hurst, new coach Jimmy Walker and Paul Lambert’s positive impact when he spoke to the media this afternoon.

Paul Lambert sees Janoi Donacien as a central defender.

Paul Lambert has confirmed Jordan Graham is no longer in his plans at Ipswich Town with the winger’s loan set to be cut short in January.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert has told owner Marcus Evans that he believes defender Jonas Knudsen is worthy of a new contract.

Ipswich Town manager Paul Lambert spoke to the media this afternoon ahead of the Friday night clash with West Bromwich Albion, and discussed the importance of the club’s fans creating a rocking Portman Road atmosphere as they try to escape the drop zone.

Mick McCarthy is the early favourite for vacant Republic of Ireland job following the departure of both Martin O’Neill and assistant Roy Keane.

In our daily feature, we take a look at what happened on this day in Ipswich Town’s history. Today we look back to David Gregory scoring a hat-trick as Town progressed to the next round of the League Cup.

Ipswich Town boss Paul Lambert is impressed with what he’s seen of the Blues’ academy during his early weeks of his reign.

Titus Bramble says Ipswich Town duo Andre Dozzell and Flynn Downes were stand-out performers at the recent England Under-20 camp.

Mark Heath, Andy Warren and Stuart Watson are back with another episode of the Kings of Anglia podcast.

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