Reece Topley aiming to spearhead Essex attack
- Credit: Archant
Fast bowler Reece Topley has warned people to write Essex off at their peril as the county begin their campaign to strike a superb treble today.
The Eagles face Northamptonshire Steelbacks in the first semi-final at the Friends Life t20 Finals Day, at Edgbaston, and will then play Hampshire Royals or Surrey in the final, later on in the day, should they progress.
Essex made it through to finals day thanks to a brilliant 47-run victory against Nottinghamshire Outlaws, at Trent Bridge, earlier in the month.
Head coach Paul Grayson’s men are also in a decent position in Division Two of the LV County Championship, lying in fourth place, and remain in contention for a place in the YB40 semi-finals.
Ipswich-born Topley is in the starting line-up in Birmingham and believes his team-mates have the ability to be serious contenders in all three formats.
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“We are probably one of the strongest t20 teams in the country but it does not always click into place for us, which can be hard to take,” said the prolific 19-year-old wicket-taker.
“But we showed against Nottinghamshire in the quarter-final that we can get a result against any county, we just have to make sure we turn up for Finals Day.
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“We can only focus on the game ahead, although I am not going to say I haven’t thought about playing in the final because, at the end of the day, that is where you want to be.
“We are also in good positions in the County Championship and the YB40 and we still have a chance of winning all three, even though people tend to write us off and say we have too many bad days.
“Had anyone been offered a chance at the start of the season to still be in contention in all three competitions, I think they would have taken it.”
Topley failed to strike in the quarter-final against Notts but the leading wicket-taker over the last year in the t20 competition was not losing any sleep.
“It’s probably my favourite form of the game,” said the former Royal Hospital School pupil.
“The last two seasons have been a whirlwind for me and I have taken a lot of wickets and bowled well for the team.
“It’s nice to take wickets although I didn’t manage to do that in the quarters.
“But I was able to sit back and play a different role and watch a few more of the boys take wickets.
“The most important thing is to win and we go through the good and the bad together.”
Saturday’s first opponents progressed following a 36-run victory against Durham, the Steelbacks having finished top of the Midlands, North West and Wales group.
“If they are bowling first they will try to swing the ball up front although that isn’t something that will happen often as it is a white ball,” he said.
“From a batting point of view they will come at us hard, they have a lot of good all-rounders and they are known for their all-action approach.”
Essex finished third in their group behind both Hampshire and Surrey – potential opponents tomorrow – having lost to Hampshire by five wickets and taken a victory and a defeat against Surrey.
Their other game with Hampshire was a non-result.