After committing his future to Essex, Reece Topley is hoping to return to full fitness and seal his first silverware to end the club’s trophy drought.
The left-arm medium-fast bowler, who was raised in Polstead Heath, near Hadleigh, was ‘delighted’ to sign a new contract until the end of next year and is now hoping to repay the club with promotion back to the top tier of county cricket for the first time since relegation in 2010.
Essex — who finished third in the LV County Championship Division Two, one place below the two promotion spots — have not won a competition since the Friends Provident Trophy six years ago and Topley is hoping he can bring the wait to an end.
“First Division cricket is extremely important to me and the club,” said the 20- year-old former Hadleigh Cricket Club youth player. “It would be wonderful to get promoted, we know we are good enough.
“We would also like to go a step further than just making the Twenty20 Finals day, we want to win a one-day trophy.”
Topley’s start to the campaign has been hampered by injury after spending five months out with a back stress fracture sustained during a winter tour of Australia with the England Performance Programme development team.
The trip saw him training with the England Ashes squad, but the 6ft 7in bowler — who took 80 wickets for Essex across all formats last season and more than anyone else in the country in Twenty20 across the last two seasons combined — is not getting carried away by the prospect of a senior international call-up.
Of his season’s aims, he said: “Personally, I would like to do well in all forms of the game and work hard to stay fit on the pitch.
“If I play well for Essex other things will take care of themselves.”
Topley, who began his comeback two weeks ago in a friendly with Sri Lanka before being restricted to four-over spells in Natwest Twenty20 Blast victories over Middlesex Panthers and Glamorgan, spent his first day in the field on Tuesday, with the second team in Bristol against Gloucestershire.
And he praised the way the club have handled his return from injury, not rushing him back despite a spate of bowler injuries.
“With a stress fracture you never know how long you need to recover and Essex have behaved extremely responsibly,” he said.