David Willey sets out double ambitions on move to Yorkshire CCC

LEARNING FROM THE BEST: Englands David Willey aims to benefit from playing alongside Ryan Sidebottom. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA
LEARNING FROM THE BEST: Englands David Willey aims to benefit from playing alongside Ryan Sidebottom. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA
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DAVID WILLEY wants to follow in Ryan Sidebottom’s footsteps and become the leader of Yorkshire’s attack.

The England pace bowler outlined his target after arriving at Headingley from the World T20.

Sidebottom, 38, has spearheaded Yorkshire’s attack since returning to the club for the 2011 season.

Since then, he has taken 235 first-class wickets at an average of 21; his average before that was 25.48.

Fellow left-armer Willey, 26, said that the chance to learn from Sidebottom played a part in his decision to sign from Northants.

“Ryan has been successful in all forms of the game,” said Willey. “If I can just pick his brains about one-day cricket and four-day cricket, hopefully I can improve and play in his wings and in the future lead the attack as he has done.

“It was a no-brainer (coming to Yorkshire), working with the quality of the staff here and playing alongside some great players, and to learn off Ryan as well.

“It’s got everything, the full package for me, and the chance to win some silverware.”

Such is the strength of Yorkshire’s bowling that Willey was not needed for the opening Championship game against Hampshire.

He accepts that he must work hard to win and then cement a four-day place.

“I’m going to have to push to get a game,” he admitted. “It is a very strong squad, but anyone who watches cricket knows there is a lot of cricket to be played in the summer.

“There are going to be opportunities there and I, hopefully, will play all one-day cricket and, with the other seamers, rotate around so we are all fresh when we play the four-day stuff.

“It’s definitely a big year for me in four-day cricket, and, hopefully, I can push for a third County Championship in a row here and also my Test ambitions.”

Signed for his prodigious one-day skills, but also with a view to filling the gap that Sidebottom will leave when he eventually retires, Willey has an excellent record in white-ball cricket.

But he is very determined to follow in the footsteps of his father, Peter, and represent England at Test level, too.

“Test cricket is still the pinnacle,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps and play Test cricket.

“I’ve got a long way to go in Championship cricket to maybe get Test recognition, which I’m aware of. But I hope this (move to Yorkshire) is a stepping-stone to doing that.”

Willey, who hopes to open the batting for Yorkshire in T20, as well as make a major impact with the ball, played a key part in England’s splendid showing at the World T20.

He was their leading wicket-taker with 10 at 15.9 as England defied expectations by reaching the final, where they were narrowly beaten by West Indies.

“We went in as massive underdogs, which is sometimes a good thing, and we played some good cricket,” he said.

“It was a great tournament for us; we were very disappointed not to win it but, credit to the guys, we played some really good stuff.

“I was fairly pleased with my own performance; when I open the bowling for England, I like to take wickets. I think I was England’s leading wicket-taker, and that’s a platform for me to build on.”

It is no secret, of course, that just as Yorkshire’s Championship form has been magnificent of late, so their one-day form has been mediocre.

They have only once reached T20 Finals Day and they have not appeared in a one-day cup final since 2002, a record that Willey is determined to help them address.

“There are a lot of talented players here,” he said. “I think T20 is all about momentum; if you win the first few games and get on a winning run, as you’ve seen with England, you can go a long way.

“It is difficult with guys going in and out of the England stuff to get a balanced, settled side.

“Hopefully, it will come together for us in one-day cricket and I can contribute in that form.”

Willey said that his father – who played 26 Tests before going on to become a distinguished umpire – had no hesitation in recommending that he join Yorkshire.

“My dad thought it was a good move for me,” he said. “He’s been around the traps for 49 years, so he knows where there is a good set-up.

“It’s been on the cards for a few years (the move), but I didn’t really think it was the right time.

“I wanted to have the most opportunities for me to improve as a cricketer and then weigh up my options further down the line.

“It’s certainly the right time now, and I’m looking forward to getting the Yorkshire shirt on.”

Hampshire fast bowler Fidel Edwards suffered a broken ankle in the warm-up on the final morning of the County Championship match against Yorkshire.