Reece Topley is desperately hoping his four wickets for England Lions at Northampton on Thursday will be enough to clinch his place in the Hampshire line-up against Kent in the final of the Royal London One-Day Cup on Saturday so he can avoid the same disappointing memories of Lord’s finals that his dad carried with him to the end of his career.
Don Topley reached four Lord’s finals during a 10-year career with Essex during the 1980s only to be taken to one side by the captain on each occasion and told he would only be 12th man.
At 24, Reece is some way off calling time on his career – even if injuries have often made him feel that might happen sooner than planned – but this might still be his last opportunity to play in a Lord’s final.
From 2020, the showpiece finale of the One-Day Cup will be staged at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, which will mean that for the first time since the inaugural Gillette Cup campaign in 1963 there will be no Lord’s final for county teams to aim for.
“It would be nice to play in a Lord’s final, not just because of my dad’s experience but because especially as it is might be the last chance before it goes to Trent Bridge,” Topley said.
But Topley junior faces a nervous wait to discover if he is going to make the Hampshire line-up.
The South African fast bowler Dale Steyn, who was rested from the county’s Championship match against Lancashire this week, is a certain starter while Gareth Berg has been picked as first-change seamer throughout Hampshire’s run to the final.
Given that Hampshire have only once gone with fewer than two spinners, it may mean that Topley will be up against left-armer Chris Wood and veteran Fidel Edwards for one remaining seam bowler’s place, unless the preference is for four seamers, as it was in the semi-final win over Yorkshire, in which Topley played.
Topley, who was diagnosed with a stress fracture in the back last August, is playing only white-ball cricket this season in a bid to keep himself at least able to play in some formats, so to miss out would be especially frustrating.
“I’m obviously hoping to get the nod but you never know until the day of the game who is going to bowl,” he said. “It depends on which players the conditions will favour and on the balance of the team. At this point as a player you have done all you can and it is up to the guys who pick the team to decide.
“I’m pleased with the way I bowled at Northampton. To get three wickets at the top of the order was very pleasing and gave us a good start in the match. I felt I was due some wickets and this time happily it was my turn to get them.”
The nine-wicket victory for the Lions over West Indies A set up a Tri-Series final against India A at The Oval on Monday, which could mean two finals in three days for both Topley and England left-arm spinner Liam Dawson, who also took four wickets in the win over West Indies A.
Dawson is surely a certain starter, with leg spinner Mason Crane and off-spinning all-rounder Brad Taylor also hoping for a place in the eleven.