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Topley looks to make up for lost time after getting through warm-ups unscathed

A last-minute injury cost him a crack at last year's T20 World Cup. Now he's fit and making a case to be in England's first-choice attack

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Reece Topley picked up 3 for 23 in the warm-up game against Bangladesh  •  Getty Images

Reece Topley picked up 3 for 23 in the warm-up game against Bangladesh  •  Getty Images

Warm-up games carry an unwelcome sense of jeopardy for Reece Topley. On the eve of last year's T20 World Cup, he trod on a boundary toblerone ahead of a game against Pakistan at an empty Gabba and ruptured ligaments in his left ankle, ruling him out of the tournament.
There was a sense of relief, then, that he made it through England's low-key win over Bangladesh unscathed on Monday night. Not only that: he returned figures 3 for 23 in his five overs, spread across two spells with torrential rain causing a long delay between them, and delivered an inch-perfect yorker to Mahedi Hasan with his first ball after the break.
"I've been steering clear of any mishaps and playing it quite safe - and I'll continue to do so ahead of the first game," Topley said, before England flew to Ahmedabad on Tuesday afternoon. "Obviously I don't want any repeat of what was so gutting last year. It was a tough period to go through.
"I wouldn't wish it on anyone, because these are the moments and the events that you dream of being a part of… hopefully I can play my part this year and make up for lost time, if anything, and make a contribution to England going all the way again. I'm looking forward to getting some game time, just as I was anticipating last year, and this time, hopefully, I can help the team retain the trophy."
For England, it was a useful run-out after their first warm-up game, against India, was wiped out entirely by rain. "We got everything we needed from the game," Topley said. "What we did out there was a steady effort, but nothing too taxing, to be honest - so, a good box ticked to get us ready and raring to go for the opening match."
Topley will be in the selection mix when England train in Ahmedabad on Wednesday night ahead of Thursday's tournament opener against New Zealand. He is one of six frontline seamers in the squad, and while he may miss out if they select only three, his case for inclusion is helped by an impressive record against left-handers - with New Zealand likely to field four in their top seven. Topley averages 22.07 against left-hand batters in ODIs, and 29.58 against right-handers.
"Everyone is fighting for a spot in that final XI," Topley said. "But whatever XI they end up picking, the whole squad is right behind each other. It is going to take a squad effort to be successful out here, and the side that goes out in each match will continue to live up to the exciting way we play our cricket.
"If anything I would say that I'm pretty undercooked," he admitted. "But, going into a long tournament, I don't necessarily think that is the worst thing. I feel like I'm just about to come into my stride, hopefully.
"It's not about tearing in at the warm-up game and impressing the right people; it is about delivering in the nine group games. That last group game [against Pakistan on November 11] is still pretty far away so I feel like I'm where I should be, but there is still some work to be done for sure."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98