Yorkshire threatened to tear up David Willey‘s contract when he took up a last-minute offer to join the IPL on the eve of the English season.
Willey was picked up by Chennai Super Kings, the eventual champions, as a late injury replacement which did not go down well with director cricket Martyn Moxon who bemoaned an “impossible situation” for the county.
Willey said the decision to take up the offer was a “no brainer” but it led to considerable tensions. They have now eased, but Willey believes counties have look at what they can potentially gain from allowing players to go and play in India.
“I was threatened with them ripping my contract up which wasn’t great, but that has all been resolved now,” Willey said. “I think the landscape of the modern game is changing and I do think that counties should try and work with it rather than work against it and look at the longer term picture.
“These guys who go and play in these competitions around the world ultimately you would think that their counties will benefit from it whether it be immediately that summer when they come back and contribute to winning games or whether they go on and help develop youngsters down the line.”
Willey has conceded that Yorkshire, who signed Willey in 2016 with the allrounder at the time keen to push his Test credentials, may not see as much of him as they would like but he has just put pen to paper on a new one-year deal with the club. He does not see himself going the route of Alex Hales and Adil Rashid in ditching first-class cricket.
“Naturally the way things have worked out over the past few years I haven’t played much four-day cricket but that is no reflection of my ambition to play red-ball cricket, it is just the way things have worked out,” he said.
Willey will have a chance to play the latter part of the Championship season with England’s white-ball cricket for the season finished by mid-July, but for now his focus is on the one-day series against Australia.
He played a key role in the opening victory at The Oval with an unbeaten 35, his highest ODI score, when England wobbled in the run chase. Willey admitted he had “probably underachieved” with the bat at international level where he has a different role down the order than he does with Yorkshire.
“Yesterday allowed me to play in my natural way because the state of the game meant there was plenty of overs left to get the runs so I could play my natural game which suited me,” he said. “It is a different role and it requires a different set of skills to what I do back at Yorkshire.”
Willey also helped set the tone with the ball when he removed Travis Head in his first over and it is ultimately his impact with the ball that will determined how often he slots into the one-day side. In this series he has the chance for an extended run in the starting XI due to the injuries to Ben Stokes and Chris Woakes.
“No-one is guaranteed a place and my position is certainly not guaranteed a spot in the side so whoever is playing well gets an opportunity and it is up to them to make that spot their own,” he said.
While known as a threat when the new ball swings, as he showed at The Oval to remove Head, Willey is conscious of expanding his range of skills. He showed a glimpse of a new tactic by bowling wide yorkers against Scotland and has also tried to learn of AJ Tye’s slower balls having played with the Australia seamer in the Big Bash for Perth Scorchers.
“I need to make sure I am swinging that new ball and taking wickets inside that Powerplay,” he said. I might get driven a few times but with the sideways movement I’m in the game.
“In the case of AJ Tye, he’s got a brilliant knuckle ball which I’m trying to develop myself, but it isn’t quite as good as his.
“You need to have different variations in white-ball cricket, it is crucial to be able to combat the flat pitches, and playing in different environments means you need to develop your game to cope in different ways.”