The Yorkshire head coach, Jason Gillespie, is convinced all-rounder David Willey will realise his dream of playing Test cricket for England after the club confirmed his signing from Northamptonshire for next season.
Willey will leave Wantage Road at the end of the current campaign with one year left on his contract after Yorkshire agreed to pay the £50,000 compensation Northants were demanding for his early release.
The 25-year-old has made international debuts in one-day and Twenty20 cricket this summer after eye-catching performances with the white ball but has been driven to leave the club in the hope that playing in Division One of the County Championship will persuade the selectors of his value in the longest form of the game.
Willey has signed a three-year contract with the champions and former fast bowler Gillespie, who took 259 wickets in 71 Tests for Australia, believes Headingley will provide the perfect environment for him to make the step up. “The reasons behind signing David for next season were two-fold,” Gillespie told the Hlcarpenter.com.
“We want to improve our performances in the shortest games – David is someone who can fit the bill perfectly in that respect – and he is an ambitious young man who wants to play Test cricket.”
Gillespie added: “What we have in our favour is being a big club at a Test ground and the opportunity to work with our coaching staff and players was a big draw. I have no doubt he can play Test cricket. He hits the ball hard and bowls over 80-mph, swinging the ball – what’s not to like? He’s made headlines in the short forms but I see no reason why he can’t do it at Test level too.”
Gillespie believes another draw for Willey was the chance to work with fellow left-arm seamer and former England Test player Ryan Sidebottom, who at 37 is entering the final phase of his own glittering career. “David is keen to spend some time with Siddy – that was a big feather in our cap too,” Gillespie said. “Siddy is outstanding at passing on his knowledge and experience and with him coming towards the end of his career, David is a natural successor.”
Willey came through the youth system at Northants and made his first team debut for the club in 2009. Four years later he shot to prominence with a stunning all-round performance on Twenty20 Finals Day, scoring 60 from 27 balls and taking a hat-trick in Surrey’s failed reply.
The son of former England batsman Peter Willey has one more shot at silverware with his hometown club, after his 40-ball century against Sussex last week secured their place at Finals Day on 29 August.
“I am really excited to be joining Yorkshire and being part of a progressive side,” Willey said. “I’m looking forward to working with Jason Gillespie and the rest of the Yorkshire lads.”
“This has been a tough decision to make because of my personal attachment to the County Ground. I came here many, many times as a boy and dreamed of playing for Northants. I will always be grateful for the years of coaching and mentoring that I have received, which gave me the best start to my career. However, I feel that the time is right to move on, to experience a new approach to training and to broaden my cricket education. Yorkshire gives me the best opportunity to challenge myself working alongside some of the best players in the country.”