England news November 12, 2013

Willey looks to build on T20 exploits

Charlie Talbot-Smith

David Willey is already Northamptonshire's answer to Ian Botham but he is not done there - he has already set his sights on the international stage.

That might sound like a bold claim for a man who rocketed into the public consciousness for the first time last summer with his exploits on Friends Life t20 finals day.

But after a call-up to the England Performance Programme for the winter tour of Australia, Willey, at 23, is now firmly on Andy Flower's radar. The squad depart for Perth on Thursday.

Until his impressive summer with the ball in 2012, the most famous cricketing Willey incontestably remained his father, Peter, who has followed up 26 Tests for England with more than 20 years as one of the sternest umpires on the circuit.

But David's all-round display on finals day at Edgbaston in August cemented him as a star on the rise: Willey took Surrey for a 19-ball half-century, the fastest of the season, pulled off a direct-hit run-out from the deep and finished off the match with a hat-trick as part of a four-wicket haul. It all assured him of the PCA award as the most valuable player of the season in t20.

While the left-armer is quick to admit that days like that probably only come around once in a career, with a Performance Programme tour to look forward to, Willey is confident the foundations are in place for him to end the long search for England's next allrounder.

"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 think in all formats I would like to see myself as a genuine allrounder. Throw in the fact that I like to think I am a good fielder as well and I hope I can be an all-round player who is important in any format.

"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'm not denying that I am 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 EPP squad and among the 13 heading to Australia this month, swiftly following on from his appearances for the Lions against Bangladesh A in August.

England's much-vaunted programme has seen two recent graduates, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, go on to establish themselves in the senior set-up with a third Yorkshire batsman, Gary Ballance, hot on their heels.

Willey is anxious for his career to be kicked ahead in similar fashion. "With the EPP are some of the best coaches so it's the best place to progress and work on things," he said. "Hopefully, there is a lot for us to work on and we can get stuck in and make a 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, and I also want to try and work on a genuine awayswinger to the right hander. Then on the batting side it is about drawing up a game plan so I can bat for whole days: that's how you score the big runs.

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

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

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