Reece Topley was ready to give up cricket.

As he went in for the latest series of surgery on his back, the aim was to get back on the golf course and be able to enjoy life.

Running in before a full house and the television cameras on Vitality Blast night was a long way from his thoughts.

But a few words from the unlikely double act of Jason Gillespie and Albert Einstein helped put him on course for one of the best nights of his career.

That was when he bounced back into the spotlight with three wickets in four balls, 4-33 in total and man-of-the match honours as Sharks beat Hampshire at Hove.

Topley, still only 25, has been plagued by back injuries and left Hampshire last year when the latest stress fracture struck.

Gillespie invited him down to Sussex to maybe get fit, play some cricket and see where it led.

With the words of Einstein in the back of his mind, Topley took him up on the offer.

Early days and all that but it might just prove to be a turning point in a career which has brought Topley ten appearances for England in one-day and a further six in T20 internationals.

The former Essex bowler told The Argus: “I was really scraping the barrel for motivation this time round, to be honest.

“It was almost like Groundhog Day.

“I think it was Einstein who said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

“I thought outside the box, chose to leave Hampshire and did what was necessary in my eyes to get back on the park and playing again.

“There were times when I was like, ‘I’m done with cricket’.

“There is so much more to life than cricket and I think that attitude has freed me up on the pitch.

“I don’t feel pressure in that sense any more.

“If you had asked me after the surgery, I was hoping I would get my swing back on the golf course and I’d be able to live a nice life in the summer away from cricket.

“But, as soon as I was ready and had the motivation, I was like, ‘Today’s the day I’m going to go for a run’.

“Then it was like, ‘Today’s the day I reckon I can bowl’.

“Then I would just take it from there.

“Each step when I was ready. I wasn’t held by any time frame.”

Sussex have plenty of potential matchwinners in their T20 line-up.

Rashid Khan was given a fantastic welcome back by the Hove faithful and there were contributions all the way down the team with bat and ball.

But Sussex probably needed another hero to step up in the absence of Jofra Archer, Alex Carey and Chris Jordan.

Cue Topley at full steam from the Sea End as Sussex, who struggled to get going at home last season, defended a score of 188-6.

He said: “Over the last three years, especially when I was at Hampshire, I was running in and I was very timid in how I was feeling.

“But I feel confident. I might not play every game, every T20 and every Champo.

“It could be a nice balance of as and when.

“I can’t really predict the future but it’s about conversations being had and enjoying it.”

Topley’s return to action was never a certainty but a bit of club cricket and some 2nd XI outings paved the way.

Gradually, word of his presence at Hove got out but Gillespie kept things low key.

Topley said: “Everything is at my disposal. The facilities, the staff and everything like that.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity I have been handed and it has been very good.

“It hasn’t been plain sailing since I got here.

“But you keep positive and look after what is ahead and what you can control.

“I was guided by a pretty laissez-fair attitude.

“I didn’t have a time frame on it.

“As soon as I felt I could bowl, I just got up one day and bowled.

“I felt one weekend I could play club cricket.

“I got the call for Reigate Llamas and I played for them.

“Then I said to the physio, ‘I’m ready for some cricket here’.”

That Hampshire were on the receiving end when he returned to the spotlight was ironic.

But it did not add any extra significance for the player himself.

He said: “It’s irrelevant really. I was on the pitch and it doesn’t matter who it was against, I was going to give my all for Sussex.

“Hopefully the next night I am picked and can do it again.”