‘Action man’ Willey has eyes on England’s all-rounder spot

David Willey’s all-action display lit up Friends Life t20 finals day as he guided Northamptonshire to victory - now he has set his sights on doing more of the same in a national shirt.
David WilleyDavid Willey
David Willey

The County’s newly-anointed player of the year, Willey has been on the England radar since a breakthrough 2012 season with the ball.

But the left-arm seamer rocketed into the public consciousness with his finals day fireworks this summer, compiling a 19-ball half-century, the fastest of the season, a direct-hit run-out from the deep and a hat-trick to finish off the match as part of a four-wicket haul.

And, while Willey is quick to admit that an all-round performance of that kind is probably a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it does not mean he has any intention of taking a backseat from now on.

Far from it in fact.

With a England Performance Programme tour to look forward to Willey is confident the foundations are in place for him to end the search to be his country’s next all-rounder.

“I probably won’t have another game like that in my whole career,” he admitted.

“But hopefully the summer and the EPP call up is a step in the right direction and I can use it as a catalyst to kick on for the rest of my career.

“I like to see myself as a genuine all-rounder in all formats.

“I like to think of myself as a bit of an action man.

“I like to be involved and contribute in all three aspects of the game and I hope in the selectors eyes that can only be a good thing.

“I definitely look at my skill set and think that the England all-rounder is a position I would like to make my own.

“I want to put myself in that picture at some stage.

“I’m not the finished article yet and I have got areas to work on.

“But I will keep working on all aspects of my game so that I can put myself in the picture.”

Willey is part of a 16-man England Performance Programme squad and among the 13 heading to Australia this month.

England’s much-vaunted set-up has seen recent graduates Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow go on to establish themselves in the senior group with Gary Ballance hot on their heels.

Willey admits that there is plenty of him to work on if he is to follow in their footsteps. Not that he is shirking the challenge.

“With the EPP are some of the best coaches so it’s the best place to progress and work on things,” he added.

“With the discussions I have already had with them hopefully there is a lot for us to work on and we can get stuck in and make some good progression.

“On the bowling side I want to work a bit on my action, making it a bit more economical to hopefully prevent some injuries.

“But I also want to try to work on a genuine away swinger to the right hander.

“On the batting side it is about drawing up a gameplan so I can bat for whole days. That’s how you score the big runs.

“You can see from the past record of this program that it is one of, if not the, best in the world for bringing players on. To be a part of it is fantastic.

“Those guys (Root, Bairstow and Ballance) have done exceptionally well so if I can come anywhere close to them then I will be doing well.”

Follow the England Performance Programme squad and their progress this winter at www.ecb.co.uk/epp