Tymal Mills has been ruled out of the remainder of the T20 World Cup after scans confirmed 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 skill set uniquely honed to the Twenty20 format. He had started each of their four games at the World Cup, but pulled out of his run‑up midway through his second over in England’s latest fixture, against Sri Lanka in Sharjah on Monday, and immediately left the field.
“Absolutely gutted but I’ve been here before,” tweeted Mills, who has struggled with injuries throughout his career. “Loved being back in an England shirt and will do all I can to get back again. Only a minor injury but I won’t be where I need to in the next 10 days.”
His absence will increase the pressure on the squad’s one other bowler of genuine pace, Mark Wood, to recover from an ankle injury. Topley does not have significant experience of conditions outside the UK – the deal to play the Big Bash League with Melbourne Renegades this winter, also announced on Wednesday, is his first with an overseas T20 franchise – but at 6ft 7in he presents a different problem to opposition batsmen.
Mills’s injury has been the first significant setback in what has so far been an almost note-perfect English World Cup campaign. In particular, Jos Buttler’s form with the bat has been exceptional – the opener has hit 214 runs in four innings and only once been dismissed – but within the squad his achievements have come as no surprise.
Dawid Malan said: “When he gets going he’s an absolute freak – you need about 15 fielders and some more over the ropes. When we arrived in Oman [for their pre-tournament training camp] you could see he was hitting the ball differently. It’s hard to explain but when you watch someone batting in the nets you just hear the way they are striking the ball and the cleanness with which they are hitting the ball. Everyone at this level hits the ball well but there’s a different sound with Jos.”
Malan came into the tournament as the world’s top-ranked batsman, but on Wednesday slipped to No 2, overtaken by Pakistan’s Babar Azam. “The No 1 tag is a great tag to have but it doesn’t guarantee you runs,” he said. “The good thing is that it probably proves that on your day you’re as good as anyone, which is all that matters at this level.”