Ipswich’s Reece Topley eager to make England cricket debut
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A First Class debut at 17, awarded his county cap at 19 and now a two-time tourist with the England Performance Programme – it should come as no surprise to learn that Reece Topley is an impatient man.
Still yet to turn 20, Topley this summer became only the third teenager in Essex’s history to be presented with his county cap.
And richly deserved it was too for the 6ft 7in left armer who has already made himself part of the furniture at Chelmsford, finishing the 2013 summer as the county’s leading wicket taker in all formats.
Essex have long known of Topley’s talents, he grabbed successive five-wicket hauls in his first two County Championship games of his career back in 2011.
International recognition was not long in following either as Topley finished the 2012 ICC Under-19 World Cup as the tournament’s top wicket-taker and followed that up with a tour Down Under with the Lions.
But Topley is not a man for resting on his laurels, even if his ambitions of breaking into the senior England set-up appear a way off yet.
Andy Flower’s side are blessed with a wealth of options in the pace department just now, so much so that Graham Onions, the leading wicket taker in the County Championship, could not even find a place on the plane for the Ashes.
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But Topley remains undeterred and insists his unique skill set makes him someone that eventually Flower will be powerless to ignore.
“It is nice to know that these opportunities are out there (touring with the England Performance Programme) but at the same time I’m quite impatient,” said Topley, whose father Don played for both Essex and Surrey.
“I want everything to happen now, I don’t have that perspective when I look at it in the present, it always seems too far away and I want it now.
“But obviously you have to be patient, make sure I’m doing my work and hopefully I will be rewarded with my chance. I am one of the more experienced teenagers around.
“Being on the big stage is an opportunity for yourself and for your team to be a part of something big so that’s how I view it and hopefully I will keep getting better with age.
“And as a left-armer I certainly offer something a little bit different. I’m a wicket-taking bowler, that’s something unique.
“It’s almost one of those abilities that you just have. Like a goal poacher in football who is just in the right place at the right time, you sort of have that knack.
“And that is a rare and unique thing and to be a left armer reverse and conventionally swinging the ball as well means I offer quite a lot for a lot of scenarios.”
Topley is part of a 16-man England Performance Programme squad and among the 13 heading to Australia this month, his second such trip Down Under.
The much-vaunted programme has seen recent graduates Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow go on to establish themselves in the senior set-up with Gary Ballance hot on their heels.
And Topley, whose stock ball normally comes through between 75-80mph, insists he will return from this tour a much-improved bowler, ready to take on all comers next summer.
“It will be hard work but it’s all about making the most of it,” he added. “You are always looking to improve. The coaches will highlight a few things and I will work hard.
“This squad was made to replicate England and hopefully when my time does come I will be best prepared for it.
“Just getting older means that pace will come, but that’s what I’m looking at, a few things on the technical side as well but if I keep working then pace will just come naturally.
“And not everyone needs to be express pace – look at someone like Vernon Philander. You need the control and the class, I would not change what I have in ability for pace.”
Follow the England Performance Programme squad and their progress this winter at www.ecb.co.uk/epp