Reece Topley marked his County Championship debut with match figures of 29.4-5-114-7 yet ended on the losing side after Essex were beaten by old adversaries Kent by 57 runs.
The 17-year-old schoolboy, who stands 6ft 7in tall, bagged 5 for 46 in Kent’s second innings including internationals Rob Key, Geraint Jones, James Tredwell and Joe Denly – with the latter succumbing to the youngster’s pace for the second time in the match.
“It was a bit of a dream debut really,” Topley said. “I was really nervous just before I started my run-up in their first innings but thankfully the ball came out well and I went on from there.
“Getting the wicket of Joe Denly with my third delivery was something special and allowed me to get rid of a lot of my nerves. I worked hard during the winter on my game and so I just concentrated on bringing some of those things into my bowling against Kent.
“I wanted to concentrate on swinging the ball back into the right-handers, or hitting a heavy length and getting a bit of bounce into them with my height and doing it at a troubling pace. I wouldn’t say it was express pace but I’m sure I’ll be able to quicken up with time.”
Last winter the young Topley, son of former Essex all-rounder Don Topley, worked at the Essex Academy with club coaches Paul Grayson, Chris Silverwood and John Childs and was also involved with the England development programme.
Cricket, though, will have to take second place when Topley returns to the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook, near Ipswich, in a couple of weeks to take AS levels in PE, Media Studies and Business Studies before he can enjoy the rest of the summer furthering his cricket education.
The county are hoping that the youngster could become the latest in a line of talented left-arm pace bowlers to make a favourable impression at Essex, including former England pair John Lever and Mark Ilott.
Former England, Yorkshire and Middlesex fast bowler Silverwood, who certainly knows what it takes to reach the top, said it was an encouraging start for the latest young gun to emerge from the Essex Academy.
“I’m delighted for the lad and to get a five-for on your Championship debut is outstanding,” said Silverwood. “He bowled well, got the ball in the right places and showed a lot of character and deserved his wickets. He’s got the desire and the will to succeed, he is a very determined lad who works hard at his game. He listens and learns.”