Topley last played for England at the 2016 World T20 and has subsequently endured two injury-hit seasons with Hampshire. He has made 15 appearances across all formats since moving from Essex and was diagnosed with a fourth stress fracture to his back in August.
Somerset’s Jamie Overton is regarded as one of the quickest young bowlers in the country and had been mentioned in some quarters as a contender for England’s Ashes squad. His twin brother, Craig, made the party instead, with Jamie having been sidelined since June after suffering a ‘hot spot’ in his lower back, following a stress fracture to the same area in 2016.
They will be joined on the Pace Programme by teenager Josh Tongue, who took 47 Championship wickets in his debut season. Tongue’s Worcestershire team-mate George Scrimshaw, Essex allrounder Paul Walter, Tom Barber of Middlesex and Leicestershire’s Zak Chappell make up the seven-man party.
There will be further Worcestershire involvement, with Matt Mason, the club’s assistant and fast-bowling coach, joining Kevin Shine, the ECB’s lead fast-bowling coach, in overseeing the programme. The group will train in Potchefstroom in January and February, as well making trips before and after to the Desert Springs resort in southern Spain.
The ECB has also helped place eight players, seven of whom have represented the Under-19s, with clubs overseas to aid their development over the winter. In Sydney, legspinners Matt Critchley (of Derbyshire) and Matt Parkinson (Lancashire) will work with former Australia international Stuart MacGill, while offspinners Andrew Salter (Glamorgan) and Brad Taylor (Hampshire) are set for Wellington, where they will receive specialist coaching from Jeetan Patel.
Also heading to Sydney are Ollie Pope, the Surrey wicketkeeper-batsman, and Sussex allrounder Delray Rawlins, who will join Critchley and Parkinson in playing in the New South Wales Premier competition. Additionally, top-order batsmen Max Holden (Middlesex) and George Bartlett (Somerset) will go to Perth, featuring in the Western Australian Premier Cricket competition.
“By exposing talented young players to an unsupported, unstructured cricket programme in a challenging overseas environment, the aim of overseas placements is to develop the skills and also independence required to be a successful international cricketer,” David Parsons, the ECB’s Performance Director, said.