Suffolk’s Reece Topley is back and targeting England return

Ipswich-born Hampshire and England bowler Reece Topley

Ipswich-born Hampshire and England bowler Reece Topley - Credit: Archant

Suffolk’s Reece Topley admitted he “lost his identity” during his year of injury woes – but has vowed to bowl his way back into England contention.

The fast bowler from Ipswich endured 12 months of hell but helped Hampshire to a County Championship draw with Yorkshire on Monday, taking two wickets and scoring 16 in his team’s only innings.

That was his first appearance since breaking his hand batting on his Hampshire debut against Warwickshire last April, the 23-year-old having not previously bowled since the World Twenty20 last March.

After recovering from his hand injury, former Royal Hospital School pupil Topley sustained his third back injury in three years and ended the year undergoing a shoulder operation.

“It is horrible,” Topley explained. “When you are not playing cricket for a year, like I was, you have lost your identity.

“I am only just starting to wake up again as Reece Topley the cricketer. I am getting up playing cricket again. For a year I was waking up and wasn’t sure what I was doing.”

He added: “I was where I wanted to be my whole life, building up to wanting to play for England, and it is hard when you have achieved your dreams and something you’ve worked towards and then it is taken away from you. It is not nice.

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“Then, one-by-one, people don’t talk about you in the cricket fraternity and things start to go away from you which you associate with cricket because they aren’t there anymore.”

Topley had been touted for international honours since breaking through as a 17-year-old wonderkid at Essex.

In between lay-offs he managed six T20 and 10 one-day appearances for England but it is Test cricket which he is chasing.

“I want to play Test cricket for England, that’s my ambition, so I’m going to have to bowl a lot of overs. That shouldn’t be an issue,” he explained.

“Every time your back does break or fracture it does grow back naturally stronger.

“Time is on my side as well. I am only 23. There are people who don’t make first class debuts until they are 23, 24 or even 25.

“I want to contribute to Hampshire winning championships and want that to lead to me playing for England as well.

“If that is the blueprint then I’m going to have to bowl some overs along the way.”

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