Reece’s ready to take control of his destiny

DOWN UNDER: Polstead Heath's Reece Topley (Picture: Sports Beat)
DOWN UNDER: Polstead Heath's Reece Topley (Picture: Sports Beat)

Reece Topley has the stature to be England’s next tall destroyer — but the 19-year-old has his sights set on a different approach altogether.

By naming Boyd Rankin, Steven Finn and Chris Tremlett in this winter’s Ashes squad, England heralded a new approach to fast bowling in Australia.

Ex-Hadleigh cricketer Topley, who left Australia to return home this week after a month with the England Performance Programme Squad, stands at 6ft 7in and fits the mould.

But the left-arm seamer, from Polstead Heath, near Hadleigh, who is already one of the most-feared bowlers on the domestic Twenty20 circuit, has a different set of role models altogether.

England’s Jimmy Anderson has helped convince Topley of the powers of control, as have a host of fellow left-armers — an asset he treasures in the game’s shortest form.

“If you look at someone like Chaminda Vaas and what a great career he had or Zaheer Khan, Irfan Pathan — you don’t have to be express,” said Topley.

“There are some bowlers who use that to their advantage, like Morne Morkel, being big and tall and bowling very fast, but there is a lot to be said for these bowlers who are out-and-out class and that is what I want to mould myself into.

“If you were to look at someone in the modern game, Anderson is a bit like that.

“He is not express speed and he is still getting a lot of wickets.

“I think it’s massive in one-day cricket — just how you can shut off angles against left-hand batsmen and right-hand batsmen.

“In four-day not so much, but it’s an important skill and a valuable asset to have in your side.”

Despite his tender age, Topley is one of the more experienced members of the England Performance Programme Squad, which has been training and playing tour matches in Adelaide and Perth.

And he knows impressing from the inside of the England setup is just as important as continuing to pick up wickets for Essex.

“It’s a tough one,” he added. “I don’t think the selectors look that much into how many wickets you have taken. But if you impress on this programme, I think that’s your way in.

“Each game is an opportunity. If I can keep picking up the four-fers and five-fers, then look back on each season and say that I have done well — everything else will just fall in its place.”

Topley announced himself in the summer of 2012, claiming 17 wickets in the Friends Life Twenty20 and nurturing a devastating yorker.

He followed that with 21 wickets this summer — only Muhammad Azharullah took more — and finished near the top of the County Championship Division Two wicket-taking tables, with 48.

The teenager was judged not quite ready for England’s Twenty20 squad for next month, announced on Monday, but he does not believe domestic dominance necessarily leads to international honours.

“I wouldn’t think that the job would be beyond me, but I knew I wouldn’t be in their thoughts,” he added. “If you want to be black and white about it and you have a look at who has achieved what, then I suppose I could have been one of those players.

“You don’t have much of an opportunity to show that when you’re out here but it is something that I have really enjoyed playing, the shorter form of the game.

“I would say it is probably my favourite of the two forms of the game.

“That’s not to say I don’t like red-ball cricket – it’s still something that one day I would like to represent England at.

“It’s the most fun I’ve ever had on a cricket field, playing Twenty20 cricket. It’s the most exciting, glamorous form of the game.”

n Follow the England Performance Programme squad and their progress this winter at www.ecb.co.uk/epp