Topley bounces back after dual examination

SCHOOLBOY Reece Topley bounced back to claim two wickets for Essex yesterday – 24 hours after his race against time to make the start of the match against Middlesex following an examination.

The 17-year-old Royal Hospital School student suffered a wicketless opening day in the LV= County Championship match at Chelmsford after arriving just 20 minutes before the scheduled start.

Topley endured a mentally exhausting morning even before he took the new ball, awaking at 6.30am and just 75 minutes later sitting a two-hour AS Level Business Studies examination at the RHS in Holbrook near Ipswich.

He was then collected by his father – former Essex cricketer Don Topley – and whisked the 36 miles to Chelmsford with just 20 minutes to spare.

Topley had previously sat AS Levels in Sports Studies and Media Studies exams but needed special permission from the examinations officer and examination board to take this third and final AS Level ahead of his fellow students.

He said: “I finished my exam at around 9.45 and it was then full on to Chelmsford. On the way I heard that we were fielding so as soon as I arrived, I changed into my whites, went through a brief warm-up on the outfield and, minutes later, we were into the match.”

Having arrived at Chelmsford, he was put through an examination of an altogether different kind by the Middlesex batsmen, who ended day one on 316 for six.

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The 6ft 7in tall left-arm fast bowler took the new ball but conceded 16 runs off four overs before being replaced. By the end of the day he had sent down 16 overs for 80 runs without taking a wicket.

In the rush to get to the game on time, the youngster arrived minus his Essex sweater, leaving his father to go scurrying to the club shop to get a replacement – although Topley junior pointed the finger of responsibility elsewhere on that issue.

“Because I came straight from school, my dad packed my bag and so it’s his fault,” he laughed.

He was less amused though with his own initial efforts with the ball.

“Unfortunately for me, it wasn’t a great start with my bowling although by the end of the day, I felt I had got back to a reasonable level of performance,” he added.

Topley’s fortunes improved yesterday as he claimed two wickets for 21 runs in four overs, including removing opening-day centurion Sam Robson as Middlesex were dismissed for 385. Essex replied with 235 for seven by the close.

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