Ex-Suffolk schoolboys resume rivalry on international stage at England’s cricketers take on New Zealand

New Zealand's Matt Henry in bowling action against England during day three of the first Investec Te

New Zealand's Matt Henry in bowling action against England during day three of the first Investec Test Match at Lord's, London - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Tonight, former Suffolk schoolboys Reece Topley and Matt Henry will go head-to-head in an international Twenty20 match between England and New Zealand at Old Trafford.

England's Reece Topley

England's Reece Topley - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

It’s a match-up that has sparked memories of the duo’s involvement in a ‘humdinger’ of a derby between Royal Hospital School and St Joseph’s College back in 2010.

A 16-year-old Topley was playing for the Holbrook hosts that day, while 18-year-old Henry – over from New Zealand on a one-year scholarship at the time – was playing for the visitors.

It was clear at the time that the duo were destined for big things. Towering left-arm seamer Topley claimed five wickets, while Henry – although unable to claim any scalps – bowled with maturity, his short balls meaning he conceded just 32 runs off eight tight overs.

“Anyone involved with those two schools will remember that game well,” said Don Topley, father of Reece and cricket coach at RHS in Holbrook.

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“RHS versus St Jo’s has always been quite an intense local derby – it’s game neither team likes losing.

“That particular game was a real humdinger. Matt Henry already had a high profile as a Kiwi over on a scholarship, while there were several local lads already making a name for themselves.

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“We won the toss and were bowled out for 166, then Reece took the first four wickets as they were reduced to 57 for six.

“They were at 95 for nine at one stage, but then came a good last wicket stand before Reece claimed his fifth wicket to secure RHS a 31-run win.

“We all came away from that match knowing that we’d witnessed a few stars in the making.

“Reece and Matt have obviously gone on to become international players, while Matthew Hunn is also a professional with Kent.”

Henry, 23, made his New Zealand T20 debut in December last year, with One Day debut coming a month later.

He was called up as replacement at the semi-finals stage of the World Cup in Australia and went on to feature in the final, at the MCG, against the hosts.

Then came a dream Test debut, against England at Lord’s last month, when he finished with six wickets in a memorable opening match.

Ipswich-born Topley – alongside Hampshire batsman James Vince, Kent wicket-keeper/batsmen Sam Billings, Northants all-rounder David Willey and Durham seamer Mark Wood – was one of five uncapped players named in England’s squad for tonight’s one-off game at Old Trafford.

The 21-year-old has long been in the mind of England selectors, having trained with the first team aged 15, but has finally made his breakthrough thanks to the benefits of an injury-free winter.

Essex have been treating the youngster with kid gloves this summer, head coach Paul Grayson making the decision to limit his involvement in the LV= County Championship, and the result has been some impressive form in the short formats of the game.

Essex may be struggling in all formats of the game, but Topley has strengthened his reputation with some prize wickets – including the likes of Kumar Sangakkar (Surrey) and Chris Gayle (Somerset).

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