Reece Topley ruled out of England’s T20 World Cup squad with Mills called up

The game England did not want has led to the outcome they most feared: another freak injury and another key player out of the T20 World Cup. Scans have shown that Reece Topley’s trip over the advertising cushions at the Gabba in Brisbane during fielding practice before Monday’s warm-up against Pakistan has led to two ruptured ligaments in his left ankle, and he will fly home before England’s tournament has even begun.

Tymal Mills – one of three travelling reserves, and the player Topley replaced in the 2021 World Cup squad midway through the tournament when Mills sustained a thigh injury – has been drafted into the squad as a replacement. Lancashire’s Luke Wood, who made his England debut in the recent tour of Pakistan, will now travel to Australia to join the group as a reserve, and is expected to meet them in Melbourne at the start of next week.

Topley’s injury follows that of Jonny Bairstow, who broke his left leg in three places and dislocated an ankle after slipping during a round of golf last month. After an overwhelmingly positive buildup to the tournament Jos Buttler and Matthew Mott must now redraft their XI for Saturday’s opening game against Afghanistan in Perth.

Monday’s game featured another slip that would have caused concern among England’s coaching staff, as Liam Livingstone – making his return from an ankle injury of his own – fell while turning for a second run, and stayed on the ground for a few seconds before rising gingerly to his feet. But not only did he continue to play, he said later that this moment came as a significant morale-boost.

“It was actually nice to slip because it gives you a little bit of confidence,” he said. “Considering I had a 12-week injury and we’re just at the end of week seven I’m pretty happy with where I’m at, and we’ve still got another few days before the first game. I didn’t want to go hell for leather, I just wanted to make sure I got back to cricket and got through my bowling. The turning and stuff was going to be difficult, so to have a slip on it and to feel all right is a bit of a confidence-booster.”

Livingstone has had his ankle tightly swaddled in bandages for every flight – and there have been several, with England’s visit to Australia starting on the west coast, moving to Canberra and then Brisbane in the east and returning to Perth in the west, all within the first fortnight. “Flying hasn’t been the easiest,” he said. “I have to compress it every time I fly. It’s just been a bit niggly and I’ve done everything I can to make sure I’m fit and available for Saturday. I played at 90% on Monday, which is what we’re after.”

Despite not giving his maximum Livingstone did manage to hit one monstrous six, which landed on the roof of the Gabba before rolling out of the stadium. “Harry Brook was actually taking the mick out of me, saying this was a stadium I hadn’t cleared, and I said if ever there was a chance to do it, it was on that wicket,” Livingstone said. “So it was nice to be batting with Brooky at the time. It’s nice to get a few out of the middle to get going. I’ve still got some work to do batting-wise but I’m pretty close to where I want to be.”