Northamptonshire Steelbacks head coach David Capel thinks David Willey’s time in South Africa, where he was part of England's Performance Programme squad in Pretoria late last year, could have long term positive effects on the development of the talent youngster, writes Gurjeet Sapal.
Capel has already seen a short-term impact in Willey in the few months that he has been back and he expects the improvements to continue throughout his career.
“I think it was a good experience in terms of having a short-term impact and these sorts of trips can also have positive long lasting effects. It seems to have been a successful experience for David," Capel said.
There is no doubt that after the successes that Willey achieved last season, in helping the Steelbacks to get to the Friends Provident T20 finals day, he will be eager build on his past performances.
Willey concentrated predominately on his bowling while in South Africa and worked with the coaches to develop his left-arm seamers.
Willey said, “My main focus was on technical and physical aspects of my bowling, I am feeling good about the way it is coming out at the moment, I am definitely looking forward to the season.”
However, Capel suggested that this emphasis on bowling was mainly because of the circumstances of the trip and insists that Willey has attributes with both the bat and the ball in all forms of the game.
“He did a lot of bowling out there, however it is widely recognised that he is a multi-dimensional cricketer. At this stage in his career a lot could happen but I think it is fair to say that the ECB would see him as a bowling all-rounder.”
Although Willey has shown much promise since making his debut in first-class cricket, including a brilliant fifty on debut, there is still a long way to go until he truly fulfils his potential with both the bat and the ball. He averaged 20.68 with the bat and took seven wickets in the 11 first-class opportunities he was given last year. These are statistics coach Capel is confident Willey can improve on.
“He is a young player that is 22 years old and still developing. He has got a lot of maturing to do and the process is starting now. There is a lot of nurturing and guidance along the way as well as important online learning through playing experience."
Capel still sees merit in Willey playing some county second XI cricket, suggesting that this is where he is going to get the valuable opportunity he needs to make him a consistent first-class cricketer.
Capel said: “Often he bats at seven or eight and be our fourth or fifth bowling choice in our first XI because of the balance of our team. He needs the experience of batting at number five or six and playing a full role with the ball on a consistent basis, and he will be looking to do that when he plays second XI cricket. He must look to dominate second XI cricket and push himself to be a regular in the first team.”
Coach Capel likens Willey to veteran Steelback and South African international, Andrew Hall, who has had a prolific first-class career over 15 years. Hall averages 34.89 with the bat and 25.85 with the ball in first-class cricket, these phenomenal statistics are the kind of statistics that Capel is keen for Willey to emulate.
“I see him playing a similar role to Andrew Hall, where he must take the responsibility in both disciplines. Andrew has consistently put in performances through out his career which has seen him average 30 or over and take wickets at an average of around 25 runs piece. This is how I see David becoming capable of performing."
Capel concedes that these performances are not likely to be immediate and there will have to be learning processes for Willey throughout his career.
“You can not just expect a young person to be start putting these performances in from the off, it is a gradual progression. You need to get in to the habit of batting at five or six and taking the new ball. If he can go in to second XI matches and dominate by making big scores and taking hauls of wickets. It would prove to himself that he can do it and would encourage him in every respect."
© Cricket World 2010