David Willey is relishing the prospect of making his mark in Championship cricket for Yorkshire this season.
The England limited overs all-rounder’s appearances for the county in Division One since joining from Northamptonshire ahead of the 2016 summer have been few and far between.
In the last two seasons, the 28-year-old has played just six four-day matches due to injury and, mainly, international duty.
But, this summer, England’s schedule of white ball cricket will allow Willey to be available much more. If selected by Yorkshire, he could play in 12 of the 14 Championship fixtures.
It is part of the reason why all efforts were made by both himself and the Yorkshire management to ensure he played some part in the club’s pre-season tour to Potchefstroom despite missing the start of the trip due to his England commitments in New Zealand.
He arrived late last week and played in the two-day intra-squad friendly over the weekend, taking two wickets in an impressive new ball burst.
“With the Championship just around the corner, it’s great to be out here with the great facilities and practicing some red ball cricket,” he said.
“Because I’ve been playing for England and injuries, I’ve not played a great deal of red ball cricket for Yorkshire.
“But this year – subject to selection – 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.
“There’s some nice headaches for Galey to have.
“Some lads are playing well and bowling nicely. I don’t think anyone is guaranteed to be on that teamsheet for the first game, so everyone is pushing hard. There’s been some great improvements on both the cricket and physical side, and it’s great to see.
“Hopefully I have put my name in the shop window.
“Obviously with Sid finishing and me being a left armer, I can offer a different angle and am a different type of bowler. Ultimately, you need 20 wickets to win games in four-day cricket.”
Despite his lack of competitive red ball cricket – he hasn’t played a four-day game since last April at Hampshire – Willey is confident he can hit the ground running if selected against Essex.
“Sometimes it can be very difficult to bowl enough overs and get rhythm in white ball cricket if you’re not playing,” he said. “So, for me as well as Pudsy (Liam Plunkett), it’s great to bowl plenty of overs and get yourself in a good rhythm.
“It’s a slightly different skill set. But, as long as you’ve got control over where you’re putting the ball, you’ll be good in all formats.”
Willey’s name has been suggested as one of those who may go down the Adil Rashid and Alex Hales route of prioritising white ball cricket.
However, he said: “Obviously there are some people just focusing on white ball at this moment in time, but that’s just the current climate of cricket.
“At the same time, there are still plenty of people desperate to play four-day cricket and to go on and play Test cricket.
“A lot of the media has been around people prioritising white ball cricket. Personally, I think there’s enough space for both formats, and you can see that by the people who are still playing it.”
And back to Yorkshire and how they are shaping up as they get set to return to Emerald Headingley.
He added: “There’s a good team spirit amongst the group – and, as we’ve seen, the lads are hungry to score runs and take wickets. I think we’re in a great place coming into the start of the season.”