England opportunity could come Reece Topley’s way, says Essex coach

Reece Topley

Reece Topley - Credit: Archant

Reece Topley has been challenged to enter the thoughts of England’s selectors, this season.

The 19-year-old is currently recovering from a lower back injury and will be nursed slowly back to fitness at the County Ground.

However, having led the wicket-taking charts for Essex in all forms of the game last season, Grayson knows a similar season will not only benefit a team looking for promotion from Division Two of the County Championship, but could also provide a welcome boost for the national team.

“I don’t think there will be wholesale changes in the England team, but there will certainly be two or three spots up for grabs,” said Grayson, whose side also reached the Friends Provident T20 Finals Day in August.

“All the county boys will now sense that if they can start the season well, there will be a possible opportunity to be considered for England selection.

“I would like to think that have an exciting group of young players who could come into that category, the likes of Ben Foakes, Tom Westley, Jaik Mickleburgh, Reece (Topley) and Tymal Mills.”

While bowling is Topley’s bread and butter, Grayson is keen for the former Royal Hospital pupil to improve other aspects of his game.

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“He won’t be doing any bowling for a while and the break will give him the chance to work on other aspects of his game, such as his batting,” said Grayson.

“It certainly helps when your lower order can score runs and I will be looking for more from them this season.

“Graham Napier scored very heavily and it is something we are aware of and will be looking at.

“In the early weeks of the season when the ball is nipping around and you can find yourselves at 150 for five or six, you want your other lads to be able to come in and do something with the bat.”

Grayson is keen to treat Topley’s comeback with caution however.

“He had a big workload last summer in terms of the amount of overs he bowled,” said Grayson.

“He has had a problem with his back but if there was ever a good time for it to come, I suppose it was now, out of season.

“We won’t rush him back and if he is not ready for April 13 for any reason, then we will wait for the next game.

“It’s such a big season, not just for Reece but for everyone at the club, and we are looking at the long-term rather that the short-term.”

He added: “We know what a quality bowler he is and he made it very difficult to leave him out last season, along with Graham Napier and David Masters.

“He (Reece) did not want to be rested but there might be a couple of games when that is different this year.”

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