Reece Topley has taken more t20 wickets than anyone else over past year but there is more to come
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Reece Topley may be the leading Friends Life t20 wicket taker over the past year, but the Essex prodigy doesn’t want to be type-cast as a short format specialist.
The 19-year-old – who was born in Ipswich and attended the Royal Hospital School in Holbrook – has become an increasingly prominent figure for the Eagles in recent months, with captain James Foster entrusting the 6ft 7in left-armer to bowl at the death.
And the former England Under-19 international has thrived on the responsibility, his four wickets in last Sunday’s win at Sussex taking him to 13 in just 23 t20 overs this season.
Add that to the 17 wickets he claimed in the 2012 campaign and Topley is the overall leading t20 wicket taker for the past year, his 30 wickets surpassing that of Sussex’s Chris Liddle (28) and Lancashire’s Yasir Arafat (26).
Essex tonight take on Hampshire in Southampton knowing that victory would put them closer to the quarter-finals, but Topley hopes his success in the limited overs game doesn’t detract from his abilities in red ball cricket.
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“I do believe I can offer a lot in both formats of the game,” said the teenager, who has also taken 25 wickets in just eight County Championship Division Two matches this season. “It’s been great to have some success in t20, but I don’t want to become pigeon-holed.”
Left-arm bowlers are a great asset in white ball cricket – especially t20 – because they are bowling at different angles of approach to right-handed batsman, whether that’s over the wicket or around the wicket.
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You need the ball skills to go with that natural advantage though and developing a variety of deliveries is something Topley has worked very hard on.
“I’m bowling slower balls, cutters, away swingers, the odd yorker and I’m currently working on reverse swing,” he said. “The in-swinger is my stock delivery in red ball cricket though and that can be a real weapon in the longer format.
“I’m learning all the time and it’s been an absolute honour to bowl alongside white ball specialists like Shaun Tait and Graham Napier. I grew up watching these guys and they’ve taught me so much.”
He added: “It’s been an incredible couple of years, breaking into the Essex team, bowling at Ricky Ponting at The Oval and playing in front of a full house at Lord’s. These are all things I used to dream about growing up.
“I’m not really thinking about England at the moment though; there is still a long way to go on that front. All I can do is keep concentrating on performing well for Essex and see what happens from there.”