Willey aims to nail down England place against Windies

Saturday, September 23, 2017

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BRISTOL, United Kingdom (AFP) — David Willey accepts he could be bowling for his England career during the remaining matches of the one-day international series against West Indies.

Tournament hosts England decided they could do without the Yorkshire left-arm paceman during their run to the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy earlier this season.

But Willey has been recalled ahead of Jake Ball against West Indies for a five-match series that continues with Sunday's third episode in Bristol.

At his best, Willey is a lively swing bowler.

But if that precious element of swing is missing from his armoury he can, in an ODI format geared to provide plenty of boundaries, become all too hittable.

England captain Eoin Morgan insisted after Thursday's washed-out second ODI in Nottingham that even if conditions are against him, Willey still has to find a way to take wickets. "I want to make that position my own," said Willey on Saturday.

"Fingers crossed, I can come out and bowl well tomorrow (Sunday) and get a couple of wickets early which is what they want from me," added the 27-year-old son of ex-England batsman and former international umpire Peter Willey.

David Willey's 30 ODIs have yielded 34 wickets at an average of just over 34 apiece. But his four appearances this season have produced just two wickets.

- 'Struggled' -

Bowling at the start of an international limited overs match can often be a thankless task, especially as there appears to be only a brief period where the white ball will swing early on. "Sometimes it doesn't work, and I think earlier on in the year I struggled to get the ball swinging," explained Willey.

"As a result, I lost my place in the side and didn't play through the Champions Trophy. "But I've got an opportunity now to get back out there and hope to cement my place with the new ball."

Morgan made what he expected from Willey crystal clear after a washout in Nottingham preserved England's 1-0 lead following a seven-wicket win in Manchester on Tuesday.

"He's a swing bowler, so it's his job to swing it," said Morgan.

"If he doesn't get the conditions, he still has to find a way to take wickets."

Keeping the white ball in good condition has often proved vital to Willey's success, with a couple of thumping boundary hits sometimes enough to render it less bowler-friendly.

"A couple of hits on the square or the boundary boards and it just seems to stop it swinging," said Willey.

"It's a precious time, and if you can get a couple of wickets it can make it a lot easier."

- Wood trains with England -

Meanwhile Durham quick Mark Wood joined England for nets on Saturday, eventually coming off his full run as he tries to regain full fitness following an ankle injury that has restricted him to just one match during the past two months.

Wood is aiming to return for Durham against Worcestershire in next week's final round of first-class County Championship fixtures.

A fully-fit Wood would likely have been one of the first names in England's squad for their upcoming Ashes defence in Australia.

But his latest injury setback has left a big question mark against his chances of being chosen for the five-Test series, which starts in Brisbane in November.

With the final round of Championship matches starting on Monday, Wood could have one last chance to stake a claim before the England selectors announce their Ashes squad on Wednesday.

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