England v New Zealand: Aggressive approach is best way for England’s latest hope Willey

England's David Willey (centre) celebrates taking his first England wicket, New Zealand's Martin Guptill, at The Ageas Bowl on Sunday. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA.
England's David Willey (centre) celebrates taking his first England wicket, New Zealand's Martin Guptill, at The Ageas Bowl on Sunday. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA.
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David Willey is the embodiment of England’s new-found aggression with bat and ball – and he makes no apology for his methods.

Of all the young braves being encouraged to strut their stuff in Eoin Morgan’s one-day international team, as the shackles of the World Cup are thrown off, Willey is arguably the most natural force of all.

His instinct is to attack, whether it be in England’s second wave of middle-order hitters or by swinging the new ball back in to try to eliminate batsmen before they have got started.

The left-armer had one too good for Martin Guptill in Southampton – the venue where the Kiwi opener had smashed an unbeaten 189 on his previous visit – although that was not enough to stop England going 2-1 down with two to play in the Royal London Series.

As the hosts seek to respond, starting at Trent Bridge today, Willey was taking no backward steps by word or deed.

At the suggestion his game revolves around taking the aggressive option, the 25-year-old son of former England all-rounder Peter, said: “You tell me.

“I just go out there and try and win games.

“I think I play by the rules. If that’s being feisty then great.”

Willey is part of a team picked as a spicy antidote to England’s World Cup woes and deployed with express instructions to take the game to the opposition at all times – even if that means, for example, as at the Ageas Bowl they are so bold of shot that they do not use their full 50 overs.

England still managed to top 300 on Sunday for the third successive time – a sequence they have never previously achieved –albeit en route to a three-wicket defeat.

Willey added: “These young guys are all aggressive players, and coaches and the captain have just encouraged us to go out and play the way we have been playing for our counties – express ourselves and play with freedom.

“You can see that the one-day game is developing so fast.

“A lot of these guys have been playing aggressive cricket for their counties, and they’re being encouraged to do the same thing here – which is great.

“It makes you feel relaxed to know you can go and play the game you’ve been playing for your county.”

England have promoted Willey partly on the basis that they see a left-arm pace bowler as a vital component in modern ODI cricket.

“You can see from successful one-day sides that they have had a left-armer – and England have been looking out for one,” he said.

“Fingers crossed, if I can play the last couple of games I can do well and make a name for myself.”

Willey has always had the knack of swinging the ball, and his father knew enough about his sport from personal experience at the highest level to encourage the habit.

“Ever since I was a young boy, my father has told me how valuable left-armers are,” he added.

“He has always encouraged me to keep swinging the ball, even if I am not express pace.

“Being a left-armer that swings it back into the right-hander is my main asset, and that is why I have been picked in this squad.”

As for the delivery that did for Guptill, he would not mind a couple more like that before the end of the series.

“I think it just nipped back a bit as well,” he added.

“That is the perfect left-armer’s delivery, so I hope I can replicate that.

“I’ve always been able to do it naturally. Fortunately for me, that is my main strength.”

He never had the chance to watch his dad play professionally, but Peter has been in the crowd so far for his son’s international career – albeit only two matches to date.

“He’d packed up by the time I came along,” said David.

“He’d started umpiring, so I was dragged around to watch him umpire and do the scoreboard at Fenners and things.”

It sounds as if he might not have appreciated that particular experience entirely – but he will be delighted to provide his dad with a little more excitement while he plays.

Already, Willey has far exceeded the expectations he had for himself at the start of this summer.

Casting his mind back to pre-season, he said: “For me the main thing was to make sure that I stayed fit.

“I have struggled for the best part of two years with injury.

“So for it to come this quickly is a bit of a surprise, but it is a fantastic opportunity.

“Everything is good at the minute.

“This year’s been a breath fresh air.

“I’m just enjoying playing cricket, and being rewarded so early with an England opportunity is a dream come true.”