Precocious paceman signed up by Essex

ESSEX bowling coach Chris Silverwood believes “the sky is the limit” for Reece Topley after the 17-year-old’s scintillating form earned him his first professional contract.

Following a string of impressive performances in his debut season in the LV County Championship — including a fifer in his first game — Polstead Heath resident Topley has committed himself to the county for the next 12 months.

And former England international Silverwood, who has worked closely with the 6ft 7in tall teenager, is looking forward to his development.

He said: “You don’t want to put much pressure on him at this stage, but he will be given every opportunity to achieve as much as he can.

“It’s too early to say he will play for England, but I definitely think he could — the sky’s the limit for him.”

Despite sitting his AS-levels at the Royal Hospital School in Holbrook this year, Polstead Heath resident Topley has made a big impression at the top level of county cricket.

The former Hadleigh Cricket Club bowler, at the club until the age of 14, will sit down with his father Don Topley — an ex-England player — to make a deicision on his academic commitments at the end of the season.

Silverwood added: “He’s only 17, but he’s a mature lad — it helps having a father who used to play first-class cricket.

“He’s going to have tough times and he will learn just as much from them as he will do when it’s going well.”

Topley, who came through the Graham Gooch Essex Cricket Academy, said: “I am really happy and excited to have signed a contract with the Club. This is where I have been playing since the age of nine years old and I’ve grown up watching the players, which I now play alongside.

“In the future, I look forward to performing for Essex and developing as a player with the Club.”

Essex head coach and former Bury St Edmunds player, Paul Grayson said: “Reece is a very exciting prospect and I am delighted for him that he signed his first professional contract with Essex.

“He has already made a big impact in First Class cricket at a young age taking two five-wicket hauls against Kent and also versus Middlesex at Lord’s. He will now look to continue developing and learning all the time as a player.”