ALTHOUGH fully focused on the current England Lions tour to Australia, Reece Topley can’t wait for the 2013 county cricket season to start.

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Topley, who is already in talks with Essex about a new contract even though his current deal does not expire until September, is excited about the prospect of playing for the county in all formats of the game – county championship, one-day and T20 – for the first time.

He said: “I am more excited than most about the coming season. I am not contracted to England and it will be my first chance to be available to play in every game and to take every opportunity for Essex,” said Topley, who made his championship debut between taking exams at the Royal Hospital School, just outside Ipswich, in 2011.

“I am keen to play across all formats. Last year I didn’t play much in the championship and the year before I didn’t really play any one-day cricket. Last season I was contracted to the ECB, who said when I could play for Essex. There is more chance of sustaining an injury in a four-day game, so that was why I played mainly T20 games.”

Topley, who was placed on an ECB contract due to his England commitments surrounding the Under-19 World Cup, made just three county championship appearances.

However, he was the third highest wicket-taker in the country in the Friends Life T20, claiming 17 victims in just nine matches – just four short of Australian Mitchell Starc’s 21 in ten for Yorkshire Carnegie.

“Someone said to me the other day that in four years’ time I will still only be 22, and that is when a lot of players start making inroads into county cricket, whereas this will be my third year and I will only just be 19,” said Topley, who lives at Polstead, near Hadleigh.

Whatever success, domestically or internationally, that he achieves in the future, Topley said he craves a long career in the game.

“More than anything else I want to have a 20-year career like (Essex colleague and former South African international) Charl Willoughby, who has just retired, and (Sri Lankan international) Chaminda Vaas, who is in his 22nd year as a first-class cricketer, and are both left-armers like me,” he said.

“As a left-armer if you lose pace you can keep on swinging it, but as a right-armer there is always someone younger who will be able to bowl quicker than you. As a left-armer as long as you can swing it then you are still an asset to the team.

“But I am now bowling quicker than I have done in the past. I am noticing changes in my bowling as I get older and quicker.”

The England Lions, who will be playing a five-match one-day series against Australia A, were soundly beaten in their opening warm-up match today.

Topley and Essex colleague Ben Foakes had a baptism of fire as the Lions were mauled by their new county team-mate.

Foakes, batting at no.4, was out for a seven-ball duck as England reached 225 for eight in their 50 overs against what was listed as Victoria 2nd XI at Junction Oval in Melbourne.

Topley, who opened the bowling along with ex-Essex team-mate Chris Wright, returned figures of 4.1-0-35-0 as their hosts, who fielded a strong side, raced to an eight-wicket win.

Topley was not the only one to suffer as opener Rob Quiney, who will be joining Essex as their overseas player at the start of the domestic season, struck 122 off only 104 balls.

Quiney hit three sixes and 16 fours as Victoria reached their target off just 36.1 overs.

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