Topley aims to book his passage to India
Reece Topley has his sights firmly fixed on being in the England squad for the ICC World Twenty20 in Inia in March.
Topley, 21, who started out at Hadleigh Cricket Club, and left Essex at the end of the 2015 season to join Hampshire, made his international debut less than three months ago.
Currently he is in the England squad getting set to face Pakistan in three Twenty20 matches over the next five days - in Dubai today and tomorrow, and in Sharjah on Monday.
Topley figured in the warm-up Twenty20 against the UAE this week, taking one wicket for 23 as England (174-6) beat the UAE (95) by 79 runs.
Earlier this month he took three for 26 in England’s opening one-day international defeat against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, and another three wickets as the tourists hit back to take the series 3-1.
His fast-track to England colours this year is a far cry from his painful teenage experiences bowling to the best batsmen in the country, as first Alastair Cook and then Kevin Pietersen left the young net bowler needing hospital treatment.
A Cook straight-drive broke his finger in one practice session, and then, still only 15 but a towering talent already, he was hit on the head when Kevin Pietersen smashed another back at him shortly before England’s unsuccessful 2009 World Twenty20 campaign on home soil.
Topley has since overcome a stress fracture in his back which laid him up in 2014 and - standing 6ft 7in these days - is beginning to fit the bill as the left-armer England so badly want.
Topley is highly encouraged by the welcoming regime under coach Trevor Bayliss and captain Eoin Morgan.
“The dressing-room environment is second to none,” he told the Press Association.
“If you approach it with an open mind, there are so many opportunities to be had and things we can achieve as a team here.
“We know we’re not the finished article - there’s still a way for us to go - and it’s amazing what we could achieve if we fulfil our potential.”
“England have been asking for left-armers for a while now, because there’s been an absence of one in the team,” he said.
“I saw an opportunity, (and) realised I could take it.”
“Being a 21-year-old, this is the time of my life - I feel very proud and privileged to be where I am, and I’ve been surprised to play the way I have.
“Last year I had a stress fracture and spent a long time on the sidelines, so to get in the World Twenty20 squad would be amazing.
“A year ago I wouldn’t have said that was possible - but now I’m involved in this series, everyone in that squad will have one eye on the World Cup coming up.”