Cape Town - There will be nobody smiling more about the new SA20 League than the England management team, with the tournament providing the perfect platform for a couple of injured seamers to work their way back into form.
World Cup winner Jofra Archer is, of course, the headline act and will be making his comeback from a long-term elbow injury for MI Cape Town. Archer will most likely share the new ball with Proteas star Kagiso Rabada in the tournament opener at Newlands next Tuesday.
But it won’t only be Archer that England white-ball coach Matthew Mott will be monitoring over the next couple of weeks ahead of the three-match ODI series against the Proteas in Bloemfontein later this month.
Reece Topley will also be making a much-anticipated return after suffering a freak injury ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia last year. The lanky left-arm seamer tripped over the advertising cushions at the Gabba in Brisbane during fielding practice for a warm-up match against Pakistan, and was ruled out of England’s successful T20 World Cup campaign.
Three months of rehabilitation later and he can finally return to the field for the Durban Super Giants in the SA20. He was also recently picked up by the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League auction.
“I had three months on the sidelines just now, but rehab went well and back to full health thankfully. It was irritating to not be able to take part in it because it looked like conditions were fairly bowler friendly for a World Cup,” Topley said on Thursday.
“But it was definitely a huge opportunity missed, but obviously very happy that the guys went on to win it. That was the goal when we all touched down in October in Australia, that was the goal to leave Australia with the World Cup.
“It is something to put behind me. Really looking forward to 2023. There are plenty of new competitions to play in and I’m looking forward to what’s in front of me.”
The Super Giants will be an entirely new chapter for Topley with it being his first sojourn to KwaZulu-Natal, and in particular Durban. The 28-year-old is excited about the prospect of a fresh challenge, and in particular facing up against his England teammates that are sprinkled across the five other SA20 teams.
“I've never been to Durban, so it's a blank canvas for me here, and I can't wait to feed off some of the guys' knowledge about the place and then get to explore it for myself.
“There are quite a few England internationals around the square. It's going to be interesting playing against some of your teammates and then playing with them against South Africa during the middle of the competition.
“Hopefully you have the one up and you can have some ammo to poke some fun at some of the batters if you got them out. But if not, hopefully they don't hit me for many big sixes because otherwise you'll never hear the end of it in the change rooms.”