By Graham Hardcastle
It may have been a challenging few days on the field for Yorkshire down at Chelmsford, but it was punctuated with some excellent news off it as David Willey signed a new three-year contract on Monday.
The England all-rounder has signed a deal until the end of the 2022 season at Emerald Headingley, where he has been playing for the past four summers.
Willey, 29, missed the three-day Specsavers County Championship defeat against title-chasing Essex due to family reasons, but he is set to return to the fold for the home clash with Division One leaders Somerset at Headingley, starting on Saturday.
He will then be available for the entirety of the Vitality Blast, which starts a week on Friday, saying of his absence from two of the past four matches – both away games: “It will be fine. Everything’s good.
“I’ll definitely be available for the whole competition, which is great. Hopefully I can play a big part in success.”
Willey says remaining with Yorkshire was an easy decision, despite interest from elsewhere.
“Warwickshire came in and put 28 days on me,” he said.
“Nothing was sorted with Yorkshire at that point, and I think that kick-started things.
“You’re never really 100 percent certain, but I was always hopeful Yorkshire would offer me something.
“When they did, there wasn’t really too much to think about. It was a very easy decision.”
Willey signed only a one-year contract for 2019, with both him and Yorkshire pointing to uncertainty around his international commitments and the introduction of The Hundred as the reason.
Now things are clearer – a World Cup omission and more information regarding the Hundred – hence a much longer deal.
“The fact I’m missing out on the World Cup, whilst it’s disappointing, probably gives us a little indication of what’s down the road immediately,” he said.
“It suggests I’m going to be available more for Yorkshire.
“That’s probably why they’ve been happy to put something more longer-term on paper.
“I said to (Yorkshire director of cricket Martyn Moxon) just the other day, ‘I still feel like my best cricketing years are to come’.
“Whether that’s for England and Yorkshire or just Yorkshire, we’ll have to see. But I still believe I have plenty to offer both. I just want to be playing regular cricket. That’s when I’m at my best.”
In terms of The Hundred next season, the ex-Northants man is keen to play for the Leeds-based team, with the player draft taking place in October.
“That would be very nice,” he admitted. “It would be great to play all my cricket up here.”
For now, the Vitality Blast is his next big assignment after the Somerset game, with Yorkshire bidding for a maiden T20 title and only a third Finals Day appearance.
Last year, they failed to reach the quarter-finals.
Their opening game is against Nottinghamshire at Headingley next Friday.
The Blast winner with Northants in 2013, added: “We have this chat every year – we have a good squad, players suited to T20, but then we don’t deliver.
“It’s no different this year in the sense that we’ve got a squad who I believe can go all the way to Finals Day. Then it’s a bit of a lottery. But I certainly think we should be there.
“It’s a bit disappointing the schedule means we won’t have any specific T20 preparation, so we’ll have to find our feet quickly.
“The talent we’ve got in the squad, we’re going to win games. It’s just that finer details of formulas that get you across the line in tight games, and they’re the ones that make the difference in terms of qualification.”