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Ryan Bailey at Castle Park
July 13, 2014
Essex v Hampshire - No play
Reece Topley, the Essex left-arm pace bowler, faces another debilitating period on the sidelines after he suffered a recurrence of the lower back injury that beset his winter away with the England Performance Programme.
Topley, 20, missed the first two months of the season with a stress fracture to his third vertebrae and having bowled through periods of stiffness upon his return, he experienced a relapse during last week's Championship game against Derbyshire.
A scan on Monday will determine the extent of the damage but if, as expected, it is diagnosed as a another fracture, it is likely Topley will be ruled out for the remainder of the season, inflicting a significant blow on Essex's chances of staging a late promotion charge. He underwent an initial scan after the conclusion of last week's game at Chesterfield but the results, although hinting at an underlying issue, were indefinite.
"We don't want to jump to any conclusions because he's going for a scan tomorrow but he's a big player for us in both formats and we're just hoping to get some positive news," Paul Grayson told ESPNcricinfo. "If not, and if Reece is ruled out for any length of time then we'll have to look at our bowling resources because we're quite light at the minute with the injuries stacking up again."
Since his return to first team action in early June - on the back of a lengthy rehabilitation process - Topley has spearheaded the Essex attack in taking 25 Championship wickets in four games including two five-wicket hauls.
Essex have been plagued by injuries throughout the season, particularly to their bowling department, with both Tymal Mills and David Masters ruled out for another two weeks while Graham Napier is only working his way back to full fitness after a period in the treatment room with calf and groin injuries.
Nevertheless, they have already secured a berth in the NatWest T20 Blast quarter-finals thanks to a near faultless campaign so far but Grayson admitted they may look into the possibility of bolstering their ranks by dipping into the overseas market.
"It may be a case of looking at bringing in an overseas bowler for the remainder of the T20 competition but we'll have to wait and see what the outcome of Reece's scan is and how the other bowlers shape up. There's still a long way to go in the season and we'll need all the resources we can get but we'll see."
While they continue to be strong in the short form and are playing catch-up in the Championship time is not on their side. Grayson admitted that if they are to harbour any hopes of staging a late promotion charge, nothing less than victory over Hampshire this week at the annual Colchester festival will do.
They were not helped, however, by a combination of heavy overnight rain and persistent thundery downpours on Sunday morning as the first day was washed out due to a saturated outfield at Castle Park. After an inspection at 10am, the umpires deemed the ground unplayable and after lunch was taken, the prospects of play deteriorated further despite the best efforts of the groundstaff.
"It's frustrating for everyone as this game is crucial for both sides," Grayson said. "Hampshire will want to beat us to knock us out of contention and we feel victory will give us a realistic chance of catching the top two."
"This has happened before at outgrounds because of the lack of drainage but we'll come back tomorrow in the knowledge that three days is enough for us to force a result."
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