THERE are worse ways to prepare for a new season than with a game at one of the world’s iconic stadiums.
That is how Northants all-rounder David Willey will put the finishing touches to his build-up when he plays in this weekend’s Western Australia District Cricket first grade final at the WACA ground in Perth.
Willey’s Subiaco Floreat will come up against Wanneroo – home club of Australia’s Mike Hussey and Mitchell Johnson – after the sides recorded comprehensive victories in their respective semi-finals on Sunday.
The 22-year-old has spent the past nine weeks Down Under and he believes that the stint abroad has served a valuable purpose, especially given the fact that the County’s proposed pre-season tour to South Africa had to be cancelled due to a lack of funds.
“As soon as we were told that we were no longer having a pre-season tour I felt that I would benefit from some competitive cricket outside so took it upon myself to contact a few people in Australia where I had been in the winter of 2008-09,” he said.
“I think within four days it had all been sorted and I was on my way to the airport.
“It was all a last minute thing but something that the coaches at Northants and myself knew would be beneficial.”
Sceptics often point to foreign conditions being alien enough to make them unsuitable as preparation for early April in England. But there is something to be said for playing on turf as opposed to an indoor artificial surface, a fact Willey acknowledges.
He continued: “I think there is only so much preparation you can do in the indoor school. And I am limited even more with my recurring shin problems so to have the opportunity to get outside and play matches could only be a positive.
“I think my nine weeks have been very beneficial to my preparation for the season ahead and hopefully I can play a major role in some success with Northants this season.”
To that end, Willey, if he is to force his way into the senior side, needs to state his case strongly once the friendlies get under way later this month and he feels that his game is in good shape to accomplish exactly that.
“I feel like my batting and bowling form is coming together now,” he added.
“I had struggled with my bowling until the last couple of games.
“I think a lot of that was blowing the cobwebs out and finding the rhythm and timing again which is what I came out here to do so I can hit the ground running upon my return to the UK.
“I’ve been pretty pleased with how I’ve shaped up batting.
“I’ve been batting about at seven or eight so I’ve not had the opportunities to bat for a long time but I feel like I’m in good touch.
“I am hopeful that my performance in my only Championship match and the later one-day games of last season, accompanied with being injury free, will put me in a good position to have a place in the first-team in all formats come the start of this season.”