Willey puts hosts in the ascendancy

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The man of the match performance in the Friends Life t20 final has been the making of David Willey.

This isn’t to say that he wasn’t already on the up because a couple of years of rapid improvement had already seen him mentioned in England despatches, but his pyrotechnics at Edgbaston have elevated his game to another level entirely.

It would’ve been natural to assume that such a showing could easily be of the flash-in-the-pan variety, something those advocating instant elevation to international level hadn’t even considered, but that hasn’t transpired.

A savage century in the YB40 hammering of Warwickshire three days ago highlighted a talent that is blossoming at breakneck speed and he provided another outstanding display to put Northamptonshire firmly in control of their LV= County Championship contest with Glamorgan on day two.

The all-rounder’s 73-ball 81, which was his highest first-class score, accelerated the County out of a sticky spot to the point where, when he edged Graham Wagg to slip, a potentially decisive lead had been constructed.

As for what preceded Willey’s cameo, the morning session was a strange one in that neither side could, or tried to, grab the initiative.

Glamorgan didn’t bowl too badly, with Mike Reed was quite a handful at times, and the hosts were rarely troubled, but there was strange lack of urgency once the first 20 minutes or so was out of the way.

A flurry of runs first thing indicated that it could be a long day for the visitors as Stephen Peters and James Middlebrook picked up where they had finished the previous evening.

The pair went past the half-century mark with no fuss before Reed saw them both off, Peters locating first slip from a decent delivery and Middlebrook edging behind.

But as far as any excitement was concerned that was it before lunch as David Sales and Alex Wakely, mainly of their own accord, applied the brakes.

Just 44 was added in a fraction more than 20 overs - it was soporific stuff and out of character for two who usually score relatively freely - and at the interval what could have been a significant advantage was only partly that.

The problem with a stalling of the scoring rate is that if wickets start to fall then any position of ascendancy can quickly disappear.

Wakely, who was oddly hesitant in his play, softly lobbed an attempted pull to mid-on to give Reed a deserved third wicket, Ben Duckett was caught behind off Dean Cosker, Sales, dropped twice by Wagg at second slip, was bowled through the gate and Steven Crook edged behind the next ball, both falling to Andrew Salter.

That brought in Willey with the deficit standing at five and along with Andrew Hall, who was happy to coast along in Willey’s wake before opening his shoulders later on, the duo added 115 in no time.

Once Willey had departed the ball after lofting his sixth six, Trent Copeland arrived to join in the fun and the possibility loomed of Glamorgan having to bat for an awkward period before the close but after Reed had plucked out the Australian’s off-stump, the remaining overs were spent playing out time.

Hall was closing in on a century as the overs were ticked off but Muhammad Azharullah was hit in front by Cosker to end the innings on 453 for a lead of 212.