Tymal Mills has been ruled out of the remainder of the Twenty20 World Cup after scans identified a significant thigh strain, and has been replaced in the England squad by Surrey’s Reece Topley.
The news represents a significant blow for England, with Mills bringing express pace, knowledge of local conditions and a skillset uniquely honed to the Twenty20 format. He had started each of their four games at the World Cup, and his absence will increase the pressure on the squad’s one other bowler of genuine pace, Mark Wood, to recover from an ankle injury. Wood’s own recovery has been slower than expected, and he is unlikely to play in the last game of the Super 12s, against South Africa on Saturday.
The 29-year-old Mills has struggled with injury for much of his career, having been diagnosed with a congenital back complaint in 2015 which forced him to retire from first-class cricket and for a long while left him unable to bowl more than four overs in a day. He suffered a stress fracture to his back last summer, as a result of which he spent three months of last winter in a back brace.
He has built a career as a specialist Twenty20 bowler on the global franchise circuit, and after a three-year absence from the England team was called up for the World Cup. With Jofra Archer a long-term absentee and Wood unavailable for selection he went straight into the team and started the tournament with impressive performances against West Indies and Bangladesh. But in England’s latest game, against Sri Lanka in Sharjah on Monday, he pulled out of his run-up halfway through his second over, and limped from the field and out of the competition.
His replacement, who had been with the squad as a travelling reserve, shares with Mills a troubled injury record. It is nearly five years since the 6ft 7in Topley won the last of his six T20 caps, and he has only played one match in the format in the United Arab Emirates – against Pakistan in Dubai in November 2015. The news completed a significant day for the Englishman, who earlier on Wednesday signed for Melbourne Renegades for the forthcoming Big Bash season.