Essex may be enduring a nightmare start to the new County Championship season, but for young Reece Topley the opening weeks of the domestic campaign are nothing short of a dream.
Seventeen-year-old Topley continued his impressive introduction to first-class cricket when he returned 5 for 64 against Middlesex at Lord’s.
Bowling from the Pavilion End at the home of cricket, Topley found consistent swing movement and started his destruction of the opposition batting by removing both openers, Chris Rogers and Scott Newman, in successive overs before lunch.
Dan Housego followed in the post-lunch session before the left-armer wrapped up the innings after tea with two wickets in four balls and all under the approving gaze of his father Don, who represented Essex from 1985 until 1994 and told his son: “I’m proud of you.”
Those five victims at Lord’s took Topley’s tally for the season to 15 in only three first-class matches and the Royal Hospital School pupil is understandably savouring every moment. “It’s been a dream start and better than I could have imagined,” he said.
“I was able to capitalise on the pronounced swing movement at Lord’s but I know that there will always be highs and lows. For now I’m relishing the highs and I’ll learn to deal with the downside moments when they come around.”
Standing 6 ft 7in tall, Topley’s remarkable burst onto the first-class scene has already led to comments that he could be a contender for an England Lions call-up but the teenager remains level-headed.
“I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself,” he continued, before adding in true sportsman’s fashion: “I’m taking each game as it comes.” The boy really is a fast learner!
Meanwhile, Essex are hoping that their overseas signing Lonwabo Tsotsobe will be available from the County Championship match starting at Northampton on April 20. The South African left-arm fast bowler had been expected to arrive this week to link up with the county for the first two months of the season but was forced to miss the game against Middlesex due to a family bereavement.
Essex had previously been frustrated in their attempts to bring Australian Peter Siddle and then New Zealand fast man Tim Southee to Chelmsford, although it is understood they are keen to lure Southee over for the Twenty20 Cup where he would join fellow Black cap Scott Styris as the club’s second overseas player.