YORKSHIRE are trying to sign England pace bowler David Willey.
It is understand that Willey could move to Headingley from Northants and that the deal may go through before the end of the summer.
Willey, 25, is one of English cricket’s hottest properties and he has permission to leave Wantage Road to further his career.
However, Yorkshire face stiff competition for his services – not least from Second Division promotion contenders Surrey – and it would be a major coup if they could snap him up.
Yorkshire are thought to want Willey specifically to strengthen their bid for silverware in all three domestic tournaments.
Although Yorkshire are comfortably the best team in the County Championship, and have lost only three of their last 60 Championship games dating back to August 2011, they have been hit-and-miss in one-day action.
Yorkshire have only once reached T20 Finals Day in the 13 seasons of the competition, while they have not managed a 50-overs final since 2002.
Willey, a dynamic left-hand batsman and left-arm pace bowler, would increase their chances of improving that record, having played a key role in Northants’s 2013 T20 Cup triumph when he smashed 60 off 27 balls in the final against Surrey and took a hat-trick.
Willey, son of former umpire and England all-rounder Peter Willey, is also keen for greater experience of Championship cricket.
He has a handy Championship record – averaging 27 with the bat and 28 with the ball – and could be seen as a long-term replacement for Ryan Sidebottom.
Sidebottom, 37, has been integral to Yorkshire’s resurgence in the Championship since rejoining the club for 2011, and although he shows no sign of slowing down, he cannot continue forever.
Willey would have to fight to get into a Championship pace attack that also includes Jack Brooks, Steve Patterson and Tim Bresnan, but he could only learn from someone of Sidebottom’s experience before potentially replacing him as the club’s leading left-arm quick.
Willey, who has played five limited-overs games for England, the last of them against New Zealand at Chester-le-Street in June, could also be swayed by Brooks’s story.
Brooks made the switch from Northants to Yorkshire for 2013 and he has not looked back; the 31-year-old was even mentioned as a possible replacement for Mark Wood for the ongoing fourth Ashes Test had Wood not recovered in time from injury.
Brooks has taken 150 Championship wickets at 25 since joining Yorkshire, including 48 at 21 in the present campaign to put him on course to eclipse his tally last year of 68 at 28.
Willey would have noted, too, how Brooks has thrived under former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie, the Yorkshire first-team coach, as well as Yorkshire’s enviable record for producing international players under Gillespie and director of cricket Martyn Moxon.
That record is a double-edged sword, of course, with Yorkshire seemingly unable to field the same side from one game to the next due to international calls.
Willey, too, could be wanted by England, but he would still add depth to the county’s resources.
Willey, who is not thought likely to be seen by the club as a potential one-day captain after Andrew Gale’s decision to relinquish the 50-over and T20 reins, has one year left on his Northants deal.
Some form of compensation is likely to be required amid rumours of a £50,000 price tag on the player’s head.
Northants have a verbal arrangement with Willey that he could gain his early release should promotion from Division Two of the Championship be unlikely.