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No World Cup SOS for Jofra Archer, as Reece Topley faces cruel exit with broken finger

Injury jinx strikes left-armer once more, as coach Mott admits 2019 veteran isn't ready

Andrew Miller
Andrew Miller
Reece Topley received the physio's attention on his injured finger before walking off  •  AFP/Getty Images

Reece Topley received the physio's attention on his injured finger before walking off  •  AFP/Getty Images

Reece Topley's cruel misfortune with injury has struck once more with a suspected broken finger set to rule him out of the remainder of England's World Cup campaign. But Jofra Archer will not be considered to replace him despite England now facing five must-win matches even to reach the tournament's knock-out stages.
Topley, who took four wickets in England's solitary win over Bangladesh at Dharamsala, was once again his team's most penetrative seam bowler, claiming three wickets in his 8.5 overs, including the big scalp of Quinton de Kock with the second ball of the match.
However, he left the field with one ball remaining of his fourth over, after stooping to intercept a fierce drive back down the ground from Rassie van der Dussen. The shot had flicked the tip of his left index finger before flying away for four, and though he did return to claim two more wickets after undergoing lengthy treatment, he was not called upon to bat as England succumbed to a crushing 229-run loss, their largest losing margin in men's ODI history.
"I thought Reece Topley going back out to bowl with a broken finger showed great spirit," Matthew Mott, England's coach, told Sky Sports at the end of the contest, before clarifying that the team was still awaiting the full diagnosis. "We're still waiting on that, but it's very much looking like it's a crack. Certainly that's the early diagnosis, but we'll find out properly with X-rays."
Topley's own reaction as he left the field spoke volumes about the situation, however. He pushed over a chair and kicked out at a box behind the boundary boards, as he stalked to the dressing-room after yet another dose of extraordinary misfortune.
Having featured on this ground in the World T20 in 2016, Topley did not play international cricket over the next four years as he battled back from a career-threatening stress fracture of the back, and having earned selection for last year's T20 World Cup in Australia, he was ruled out before the competition began after twisting his ankle on a boundary marker ahead of a practice match in Brisbane. Then, having joined Royal Challengers Bangalore for this year's IPL, he suffered a dislocated shoulder while fielding in his opening match.
And now, he faces the prospect of another early exit from the competition. However, his replacement will not be Archer - who has been with the squad as their solitary travelling reserve, with the loosely expressed hope that he might be considered fit enough to feature at the back end of the competition, as he continues his rehabilitation from a long-term elbow problem.
Mott, however, has now admitted that that will not be happening. ESPNcricinfo understands that Archer will instead leave India within 24 hours of England's defeat. "Jof is actually not going to be considered for selection," Mott confirmed. "He's come out, he's reported to the medical staff, but he's not going to be able to play a part in the end of this campaign."
Any replacement will now be flown in directly from the UK, with Brydon Carse perhaps the most likely candidate after featuring in England's home series against New Zealand in September. There is no stipulation that a replacement must be like-for-like, so they could use Topley's injury as a chance to alter the balance of their squad.
The news caps one of the most disastrous evenings in England's World Cup history. Even allowing for the depths that the team plumbed in a series of abject campaigns between 1996 and 2015, never before had they conceded a total as high as South Africa's 399 for 7, nor succumbed to such a vast defeat. And as defending champions, their campaign already looks dead in the water, with matches against Sri Lanka, India, Australia, Netherlands and Pakistan still to come.
"I can't sugarcoat that, it was a hard night for us," Mott admitted, adding that England's decision to bowl first - in heat that Heinrich Klaasen, South Africa's matchwinning centurion described as "brutal" - had been informed by statistics, rather than a gut feel for the conditions.
"I think we come in with really good intentions in this game," he said. "It was a fantastic cricket wicket. We looked at the ground stats, it said it was a good chasing ground. On reflection, I thought the heat was probably more than we bargained for. It certainly looked a little bit like a warzone there at times, particularly after Topley went off."
In a measure of what might have been, England actually outscored South Africa - 67 runs to 59 - in the first ten-over powerplay, but crucially they had lost four wickets by that stage, compared to South Africa's one.
"Hindsight is great. But we went out there in that powerplay to do a job and we were well on the way to doing that, and obviously it spiralled out of control in the last 10 overs," Mott said, with Klaasen and Marco Jansen pounding a 151-run stand for the sixth wicket in just 80 balls.
"That was class batting at the end there, with two set batters. We'd got five wickets in the first 40 overs, we'd probably done the bulk of the work to be honest, a couple more wickets there, we could have restricted them to under 300, which I think in these conditions would have been very achievable."
When pressed by Sky Sports' Nasser Hussain on England's decision to do away with three allrounders in Liam Livingstone, Chris Woakes and Sam Curran, and leave their batting dangerously top-heavy with David Willey batting out of position at No. 7, Mott conceded that the criticism of the decision was "a fair shout".
"These are the sort of games you've got to learn from, and now we're backed right into a corner," he added. "Looking at our match-ups with South Africa, we wanted to go a little bit pace-heavy. We thought that was our best way of taking wickets throughout the innings, but that balance is something we'll definitely discuss going into the next game.
"But it is very clear for us what we need to do now. Net run-rate is basically a non-event for us. We just have to win all our games and hope things go our way. But it's certainly not the spot we really wanted to be in."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket