David Willey is planning on treating Yorkshire fans to his best cricket in 2020 and beyond after accepting the offer of the Vikings’ captaincy in the Vitality Blast, replacing Steve Patterson.
All-rounder Willey will lead the side in the Blast, while seamer Patterson continues to take control of the White Rose in County Championship and one-day cricket, the latter which Willey will miss due to The Hundred.
Willey has not hidden away from the fact that 2019 took its toll for a number of reasons, both on and off the field, with him missing out on selection for England’s triumphant World Cup campaign: “I wasn’t really enjoying my cricket and playing very well,” he admitted.
The ex-Northamptonshire man, however, is keen to put all that behind him and is ready and raring to go – in both four-day and limited overs cricket – after a winter in the Emerald Headingley Indoor School and at home with his young family.
“I’m really excited,” he said. “The captaincy has come at the perfect time in my career. I’m absolutely buzzing about this summer. I feel like my best cricket in all formats is yet to come.
“It’s been a nice break for me to have a winter at home and take stock and restart.
“I’ve got a young family and have enjoyed some time at home – a bit of consistency there, and I’ve actually really enjoyed being in the Indoor School, which most people hate. I’ve taken this winter to work on my game so I can hopefully come back as an improved cricketer.”
Since joining Yorkshire from Northants ahead of 2016, Willey has only played 76 times for the county across all formats, owing much to injury and international commitments. From now on, though, he expects appearances to be far more frequent and provide more than only glimpses of brilliance.
His England situation – he is currently down the pecking order following on from the World Cup when Jofra Archer was favoured – has been much talked about.
He is 30 at the end of the month, so international retirement is not something he has contemplated, but Yorkshire is definitely his number one priority: “I’ve parked that for the time being,” he said of England. “If can put in performances day in, day out in whatever format it may be, the rest will take care of itself.”
Willey has captained Yorkshire before, five times in T20 and the Championship combined when Patterson was out injured in August 2018.
But he is now able to put his own stamp on the 20-over side instead of just keeping someone else’s seat warm.
He added: “We’ve struggled in this format, and I’ve got some ideas that can hopefully change that.
“Yorkshire is one of the biggest clubs in the world, and to be captain in what is a very exciting format (is fantastic). We have an unbelievable group of players, which should make my job a lot easier.
“This is a great opportunity for me and the side. I’m absolutely honoured.”