The dashing David Willey…….
England batting line-up is known for its depth – The fact that everyone from 1 to 11 can bat – shows that they can score big in all matches. However, in the T20I and now the ODI series, India have managed to pull them back and restricted them to modest scores. Regardless of the talent and depth, the batting unit has to click. The same goes for the bowlers as well. You need both the bowlers to do the job. It cannot be one from an end restricting while the other gets plundered for runs. At Lord’s in the second ODI against India, everything went right for England. The openers got the side off to a good start. The middle-order led by Joe Root clicked and the lower order too clicked.
After putting on 322 on the board, the England bowlers too stepped up and managed to restrict a strong Indian batting unit. David Willey, known for his fearsome strikes in the domestic circuit, finally got a chance to show off what he can do with the bat at the international stage as well. He has a 40-ball hundred, opening the innings for Northamptonshire, but he managed to get his maiden international fifty at Lord’s. His innings turned out to be the difference as it helped England push their final score from 280-odd to 322.
Willey’s 40-ball 100
Willey comes in at No. 8 for his country, but could he be sent a little higher up? Granted that there are hard hitters like Eoin Morgan and Ben Stokes batting at 5 and 6, but sending Willey at No. 6 will not be a bad option. He can change the course of the match in a matter of 15 or 20 deliveries, easing the pressure on those to follow. Also, if that move fails, there will still be batsmen like Stokes and Moeen Ali batting after him. In a way, it could be a win-win situation for England. Of course, it is not advisable to make this move in every game, but it should be fine once in a while.
However, in T20Is, Willey’s batting prowess is clearly being underused. He belongs in the top 4, where he can do some damage. Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales occupy the top 3 spots and slotting Willey above Root could turn out to be a positive move.
Coming to his bowling, we have very rarely seen Willey complete his quota of 10 overs in ODIs in the recent past. In his last 10 matches, he has bowled his full quota of 10 overs just twice. He mostly was given 5 to 6 overs in his very first spell and if the captain feels he needs Willey in the middle overs, he gets to bowl an over or two. Willey is hardly given a chance to bowl in the death, however, with the match more or less in the pocket, Morgan handed the ball to Willey in the closing stages and he did not disappoint, finishing with 2-48.
Willey, a swing bowler, does not get a purchase from the wicket at the latter stages of the innings and hence Morgan usually uses most of his overs in the beginning. With England playing as many as six bowlers, Morgan can afford to do that.
Willey made it into the England side solely as a bowler, despite the fact that his batting prowess in the domestic circuit often grabbed headlines. He is someone, who can bat and bat well in all three formats. He has 2 First-Class tons, 3 List A and 2 T20 centuries. Somehow at the international stage, he has never been given much importance as a batsman. Granted England have a strong batting contingent, but not using Willey more as a batsman is a waste of his talent.
While at the bowling front, Willey has been used appropriately, England can do more to encourage him as a batsman. Like it did at Lord’s, it can come in handy at any time. While England’s current squad and those on the fringe may not give Willey an opportunity to play higher up the order, it surely will be a gamble worth taking, considering that the World Cup is just a few months away. More the depth, higher the chances for England.