England are looking for an ‘X-factor’ replacement for Topley.

 – Gudstory

England are looking for an ‘X-factor’ replacement for Topley. – Gudstory

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England will try to identify an ‘X-factor player’ as a replacement for Reece Topley, who has been officially ruled out of the rest of the World Cup after scans confirmed a fracture in his left index finger.

Topley was struck while hitting a ball off his own bowling in England’s 229-run defeat to South Africa and was unable to complete his fourth over. He returned to play five more times with his fingers stuck together but was unable to bat, and the ECB confirmed on Sunday evening that the World Cup was over.

England are yet to name the player who will replace Topley in their 15-man squad, but confirmed on Saturday night that Jofra Archer will not be selected. Archer is recovering from a broken elbow and joined the England squad in Mumbai last week as part of his rehabilitation.

He was initially described as a mobile reserve, but England coach Matthew Mott made it clear he was not in the picture to replace Topley. “He won’t be able to play a role at the end of this season,” Mott said. He has since left India, despite the European Central Bank’s insistence that his rehabilitation is progressing as expected.

Durham fast bowler Brydon Carse made one appearance in England’s ODI series against New Zealand last month and also featured in the second-string side that played Ireland and is therefore the favorite to replace Topley in the team. But Mott confirmed that England will also consider alternative options.

“Good question,” said Mott when asked if England would replace Topley with another seamer. “We’ll have to sit down and look at that. We’ll have to look at the upcoming games. If there’s an “We agree to it.”

England are unlikely to qualify for the semi-finals unless they win all five of their remaining matches and their balance changes dramatically on Saturday. As such, they may be tempted to bring in a batsman – such as Jason Roy or Ben Duckett – or a bowling all-rounder such as Liam Dawson, Will Jacks, or Rehan Ahmed. Luke Wood is also a potential replacement for Likewise.

Topley left the field with a ball remaining in his fourth over in England’s 229-run defeat to South Africa on Saturday night. He was hit on the index finger of his bowling hand while trying to stop a straight flight from Rassie van der Dusen, and after bowling another delivery, he was unable to complete his task.

He later returned to bowl with his index and middle fingers linked together, dismissing both Aiden Markram and David Miller after removing Quinton de Kock with the second ball of the match. But, like the rest of the England attack, Topley was beaten at the death by Heinrich Klaassen and Marko Janssen, conceding 45 runs across his last two innings to finish with 3 for 88 from 8.5 overs.

He did not come out to bat in England’s innings and was sent for scans in Mumbai, confirming the medical team’s suspicions of a fracture. “Topley will return to the UK within the next 24 hours,” the ECB said in a statement. He added: “He will work closely with the medical team in England and Surrey regarding his rehabilitation.”

Despite being left out of his first match of the tournament against New Zealand, Topley left the World Cup as England’s leading wicket-taker, with eight in his three matches. This is the second successive ICC event that he has left early, after he was ruled out on the eve of last year’s T20 World Cup due to a freak ankle injury, sustained when stepping on a boundary sponge.

Matt Roller is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98


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