While Essex were announcing the signing of South Africa fast bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe as their overseas player for the first couple of months of the campaign, one of the county’s own young talents was among the wickets when Essex met Kent on the first day of the new LV= County Championship season.
Reece Topley, still just 17 and on his debut in the competition, struck with his third ball of the morning when he bowled Joe Denly for 24 with a delivery that struck middle and leg stump with the visitors’ opener beaten by pace.
The 6ft 7in paceman, who is still at school and a member of the Essex Academy, finished with 2 for 68 to bring a nod of approval from his father Don who played for Essex from 1985 and 1994.
“I’m pleased for him but he realises he still has much to learn,” Topley senior said. “What pleases me more is the way coaches Chris Silverwood and Paul Grayson are looking after him. Their input into his development has been magnificent – and so has been the way he has been accepted by all the senior players.”
Meanwhile, Tsotsobe is scheduled to stay with Essex until the end of May, finishing the county’s search for a fast bowler to help them through an intense opening couple of months.
They thought that they had signed Australian Test fast bowler Peter Siddle only for the player to have a change of heart, while overtures towards Tim Southee were thwarted when the New Zealander was offered a contract to play in the IPL.
Essex had also been rumoured to be interested in Afghanistan bowler Hamid Hassan before completing the deal with Tsotsobe.