Essex’s rising star Reece Topley admits he has already achieved his goals for 2011 but is hoping for more wickets after a flying start to his first-class career.
The 17-year-old left-arm seamer took 5-64 in his first county appearance at Lord’s just days after picking up his first five-for against Kent at Chelmsford.
Ahead of the season, 6"7’ Topley had set his sights on gaining a first team opportunity at some stage in Essex’s campaign.
Proposed overseas signing Peter Siddle pulled out of his deal though and his replacement Lonwabo Totesobe is yet to become available, allowing Topley to stake his claim.
"At the beginning of the season at Essex we had a discussion about my goals and I said I wanted to be given a first team chance this season." said Topley.
"Then I went with the first team on the pre-season tour to Barbados and played three games out there and now I’ve played three since I got back so I feel like achieved that!
"But now moving on I just want to keep a level head, take one game as it comes - an over at a time almost - and hopefully keep taking wickets."
In order to understand just how much he has achieved already this summer, Topley might look back to his only previous appearance at the Home of Cricket.
He was part of the 2010 English Schools Cricket Association side (ESCA) who were beaten by MCC Schools in one of the last matches of the season at Lord’s.
Essex’s poor performance against Middlesex could cut short Topley’s second visit to Lord’s, but he has enjoyed experiencing a higher level of competition at the Home of Cricket.
He said: "It has a special feel about it Lord’s, it’s a very iconic place.
"The Pavilion with its paintings and the honours boards; it’s very traditional and a special place."
"The step from playing club and school cricket to playing here is big.
"It’s these guys’ jobs to score runs and take wickets so it’s obviously very competitive and definitely a big step up.
"But I’ve done nothing different to what I was doing in the first place and it has continued to work so I obviously was doing something right."
Topley, like many 17-year-old’s, will sit AS level exams in the summer, but his studies have understandably taken a back-seat as his cricket career has taken off.
"It’s been difficult fitting things in with school." admitted Topley, who is taking A levels in Media Studies, Business Studies and PE.
"I was in South Africa with England under 17s for three weeks then I went to Barbados so that was five weeks away just in the Easter term. Obviously a lot of catching up had to be done but school have been brilliant.
"All the teachers have been really supportive, giving me extra individual lessons and constant email contact. I know they’re 100% behind me doing what I’m doing."
The link between Topley’s school life and burgeoning cricket career is his father, former MCC Young Cricketer and Essex seamer Don.
Don is Reece’s cricket master at Holbrook’s Royal Hospital School and has overseen his son’s development from close quarters.
The younger Topley was quick to credit his father as the overwhelming influence on his cricket - and is delighted to have repaid some of his hard work.
"Growing up, my dad has been the biggest influence on me." said Topley.
"All of my coaches have been important but living with my Dad and being at the same school - he’s had a massive impact on me.
"Fortunately he’s been at both days when I’ve got five-fors and he was tremendously proud.
"It’s nice for him to see the rewards of all the hard work he’s put in to coaching me."
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