Reece Topley is set to return to professional cricket having signed a contract with Sussex.
Topley, the former England left-arm swing bowler, underwent back surgery in July 2018, having sustained a fifth stress fracture in the back.
He was released by Hampshire at the end of the 2018 season – he had been seeking his release for some time – and declined contract offers from several smaller counties at the start of this season so he could complete his rehabilitation at his own pace.
Initially Topley will be available for selection for the T20 side though the hope is he will be able to play Championship cricket before the end of the season. While the contract at Sussex currently only runs until the end of September, both parties hope it can be extended.
Topley has been training with Sussex on and off for a couple of months. He has represented their second XI in T20 cricket and played for Reigate Priory in the Premier Division of the Surrey Championship.
Having been out of cricket for so long, Topley is clearly not in the frame for an imminent return to the England set-up. He is just 25, though, and it was noticeable that he was quickly recalled to the Lions set-up midway through the 2018 season despite having played little cricket previously. England are still looking for a left-arm seamer; if he can avoid further injury, Topley could yet be that man.
“I’ve had to take a step back with my game for a while, so to be back in a place where I can contribute for Sussex is really exciting,” Topley said. “I’m looking forward not only to be playing again, but to being back in the dressing room and working with the rest of the squad and the coaches here at the club.
“It’s been a long time out rehabbing, so if I can make it through to the end of the season fit and having contributed to the team and then work hard during the off-season so I am at my best for the start of next summer, I’ll be thrilled.
“I’m so grateful to Sussex for the use of all the facilities and personnel over the last few month. Everyone here has given me 100% effort and the ‘can do’ attitude around the place has been incredible and has surpassed any expectations I had.”
“We’ve had our fair share of guys unavailable for various reasons this season, so to have another bowling option for the rest of the season is great news,” Sussex head coach Jason Gillespie said.
Topley has played ten ODIs and six T20Is for England. In 34 first-class matches he has taken 127 wickets, 84 wickets in 62 T20s and 93 wickets in 55 list A games.