UPON his arrival at Headingley in 2015, David Willey expressed a keen desire to develop his red-ball game for Yorkshire in the hope of one day emulating his father Peter and going on to play Test cricket for England.
A little over two years down the line the 28-year-old has barely had an opportunity to pursue that dream, with his England one-day commitments and injury restricting his County Championship opportunities to just six games for Yorkshire.
The 2018 season, however, could be the year when Willey dares to dream again as he looks to secure a significant role in Yorkshire’s four-day plans.
After a winter that has seen him hone further his white-ball skills for both England and in the Big Bash with Perth Scorchers, the former Northamptonshire all-rounder is available for 12 of the county’s 14 four-day games.
Yorkshire team-mate Adil Rashid, along with England colleague Alex Hales, recently caused a stir when opting to sit out red-ball cricket for the foreseeable future in order to concentrate solely on their white-ball game. But Willey remains keen to develop himself as a true ‘all-rounder’.
Therefore he is hoping to give Yorkshire first-team coach Andrew Gale a selection headache when it comes to choosing his starting XI for the opening Championship encounter at Headingley on April 13 against Essex.
“I’ve not played a great deal of red-ball cricket for Yorkshire because I’ve been either playing for England or due to injuries,” said Willey.
“But this year I’m available for 12 Championship games, which is exciting for me. Hopefully I can play in a lot of those and make some good contributions.
“I don’t think anyone is guaranteed to be on that teamsheet for the first game, so everyone is pushing hard. Hopefully I have put my name in the shop window.”
The retirement of Ryan Sidebottom at the end of last season gives Willey further cause to believe that this season is the best opportunity he will ever have to further his aim of being a quality red-ball operator, adding to the white-ball skills where he has made his name in both domestic and international cricket.
This year I’m available for 12 Championship games, which is exciting for me. Hopefully I can play in a lot of those and make some good contributions.Yorkshire CCC’s David Willey
Being a left-arm seamer like Sidebottom, Willey hopes he can prove an ideal replacement.
“With Sid finishing and me also being a left-armer I can offer a different angle and am a different type of bowler,” added Willey. “Ultimately you need 20 wickets to win games in four-day cricket.”