Yorkshire director of cricket Martyn Moxon is backing David Willey to be a big part of England’s bid for World Cup glory despite the looming presence of 90mph pace ace Jofra Archer.
Willey is one of the bowlers deemed most under threat due to Archer’s availability after the England and Wales Cricket Board fast-tracked the Barbados-born star into the national set-up by relaxing their residency rules from seven years to three.
Yorkshire star Willey has played an important role in England’s rise to No 1 in the world and has made all 42 of his one-day international appearances since they adopted a more attacking approach after they flopped at the last World Cup in 2015.
Willey’s former Yorkshire team-mate Liam Plunkett and Tom Curran are also among those looking over their shoulders with Archer almost certain to be named in the final 15-man World Cup squad despite being overlooked for the provisional party pending an opportunity to prove himself in the forthcoming ODIs against Ireland and Pakistan.
Moxon believes that Willey’s unique selling point of being a left-armer with the ability to swing the new ball could be vital as England seek to justify their tag as favourites for the tournament that starts on May 30.
He also revealed that 29-year-old Willey will play in Friday’s Royal London Cup game against Derbyshire at Emerald Headingley before linking up with his England team-mates for a World Cup training camp.
There’s some strong competition for the England seam bowling places particularly with Archer being around the scene, but I definitely think that Dave can play a big part in the World Cup.Martyn Moxon
Moxon said that Willey’s county and international colleague Adil Rashid will not play against Derbyshire as it was agreed with England that he would only appear in three of the first four One-Day Cup matches.
Yorkshire do not expect to have any of their England players available after Friday for the rest of the competition, including the knockout stages should they progress.
Moxon told The Yorkshire Post: “There’s some strong competition for the England seam bowling places particularly with Archer being around the scene, but I definitely think that Dave can play a big part in the World Cup.
“He’s a wicket-taker with the new ball, particularly if the ball swings, and someone who’s capable of taking wickets at the top of the order, which is obviously very important.
“He gives that different angle of being a left-armer and I think that’s a good asset to have in one-day cricket because they can change the angles and give you a bit of variety.
“Archer is clearly an outstanding cricketer and you would feel for whoever misses out for him because England have been building up to the World Cup for a while now and they’ve had a settled group of seamers, but it’s a World Cup at the end of the day and it’s probably our best chance to win it ever.”
Moxon sensed that Willey might possibly have been vulnerable before a strong showing in the T20 series against the West Indies last month capped by a career-best return of 4-7 and man-of-the-match display in the final game in St Kitts as the tourists completed a 3-0 whitewash.
He then went more than a month without playing due to the late birth of his daughter, which prompted him to pull out of his contract with Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League with the former Northamptonshire man only returning to action last week at the start of the One-Day Cup.
“I think it was really important that Dave performed well in those T20s in the West Indies because you could sense that he was being overlooked, shall we say,” said Moxon.
“Now it’s going to be really important when he gets an opportunity against Pakistan in the forthcoming one-day series that he takes it as I presume they’re going to give everyone a chance.
“Dave is determined to hit the ground running when he joins England and he was keen to play for us on Friday with that in mind, too.
“He’s not had much match play due to the birth of his daughter and an extra game going into the one-day internationals is important for him to get that match fitness and match sharpness ready for international cricket.”
Willey is finding his feet again in the middle and has chipped in with bat and ball during the first three One-Day Cup games that have brought a thumping win over Leicestershire followed by a tie against Warwickshire and a defeat to Lancashire. He took two wickets in the home games against Leicestershire and Lancashire and made 40 in the fixture at Warwickshire.
“The more he plays the better he’ll get,” said Moxon. “He’s getting back into match play now and, hopefully, he’ll go from strength to strength.”