Former England international batsman Nick Knight has tipped former Hadleigh player Reece Topley to fulfil his potential and play at the very top.
The towering teenager, who stands at an imposing 6ft 7in, has enjoyed a meteoric rise in development since his days at Friars Road playing for Hadleigh, having recently signed a two-year contract with County Championship Division Two outfit Essex,
The 19-year-old, son of former Essex fast bowler Don Topley, has also impressed at international level, finishing as leading wicket taker, with 19, in the Lions ICC Under-19 World Cup campaign in Australia last summer.
And having reached the international stage himself, featuring in 17 Test matches and 100 One Day Internationals, Knight — who played for Essex and Warwickshire and is now a Sky Sports commentator — has tipped his former club’s rising star to reach the pinnacle of full international cricket.
“Reece is now on his way there playing first class cricket and if he is willing to dedicate himself to the game then I see no reason why he shouldn’t have an excellent future,” said the 43-year-old. “He has played with the Lions on their tours and is getting a lot of opportunities with Essex’s first team , which has got to be good as a young player.
“He is a very tall lad with that little bit of pace and having any left-armer with pace is a great starting point.
“His father Donald also played first class cricket at Essex so he obviously has a lot of family history with the game.”
Despite heaping praise on Topley, who came through the Graham Gooch Essex Cricket Academy, Knight was also quick to warn the youngster of the pitfalls of not applying himself and laid out the hard work that lies ahead of him if he is going to become an international cricketer.
“With Reece the talent is quite clearly there, but it also becomes a mental game and how much he wants it and how hard he is prepared to work for it,” he added. “How much is he prepared to train and get stronger and put in those long hours because there are very few who can get to the top without the extra hard work.
“Everyone has their own pathways to success, but I’d be surprised if there are too many who wouldn’t admit that they could work harder and put in a few extra hours.
“However, if he wants to do that, and does it, then he has a fantastic future ahead of him.
“The talent is there, but with all these young players we can get carried away with seeing them come through quickly when actually what we find is after they’ve come through they move away very quickly.
“Perhaps that is because there is a lack of appreciation of what it takes to stay at the very top.
“You are going to have lots of bad moments, any professional cricketer will, but you have to go away and work on your weaknesses because that is what will give a good chance of making it.”
n Full new season cricket preview on Page 68, including interviews with Sudbury, Halstead and Hadleigh captains.