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Joining IPL was ‘no-brainer’ for Yorkshire’s Willey

David Willey has no regrets about choosing Chennai over Yorkshire at the start of this summer.

David Willey is adamant his decision to join this year’s Indian Premier League was a “no-brainer” – even though it meant he briefly risked losing his Yorkshire contract.

The 28-year-old reports his three-match stint with IPL champions Chennai Super Kings, under the tutelage of coach Stephen Fleming, rekindled his love for cricket and opened up new tactical awareness which will benefit both club and country.

Willey is back in the good books at Headingley – where he has agreed a new contract, due to be finalised imminently – and is intent on helping England to win the World Cup next summer for the first time in their history.

Asked if he found it a tough decision to fly to the IPL as an injury replacement and therefore miss several weeks at the start of Yorkshire’s season, he said: “It was a no-brainer.

“You don’t get the chance to go and play in the biggest Twenty20 competition in the world every day.

“I was threatened with them ripping my contract up – which wasn’t great – but that has all been resolved now.”

Benefits, he believes, have been immediate – and will continue for years to come too.

“I feel like not only have I found my enjoyment for the game again, I’ve also learnt a lot from a tactical, mental and skill point of view.

“I found my love for the game again while I was out there, and I really do think I’ve become a student of the game again.”

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Former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming was Willey’s coach at Chennai this year (Rebecca Naden/PA)

Yorkshire lost Willey and fellow England seamer Liam Plunkett to late IPL call-ups this spring.

But he said: “I think the landscape of the modern game is changing, and I do think counties should try and work with it rather than work against it – and look at the longer-term picture.

“I think if counties had that outward look at these competitions as a longer-term benefit it would be better for everyone involved.

“There would be less arguments and fall-outs along the way.”

He hopes to impart new-found knowledge for future generations of cricketers at Yorkshire and elsewhere.

“I’ve signed another year at Yorkshire – which is going through today – and I still want to play all formats,” Willey added.

“I may not be around as much as Yorkshire would like at the minute, but I see myself as having a long-term benefit to the county I’m at.”

In the shorter term, after helping England go 1-0 up at the start of their five-match one-day international series against Australia, claiming a career-best unbeaten 35 from number eight in a scrappy three-wicket at The Oval, he has his eyes on more runs and wickets for his country.

Willey acknowledges, however much he would like a move up England’s strong batting line-up, he has “no expectation” of that happening.

He knows his main job is to take early wickets – and to that end, he will stay brave in search of swing.

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Yorkshire pair Willey (left) and Liam Plunkett got England home against Australia at The Oval (John Walton/PA)

“I need to make sure I am swinging that new ball and taking wickets inside that powerplay,” he said.

“I might get driven a few times – but with the sideways movement, I’m in the game.

“You have to force yourself to get it up there, but we have backing of the captain and the coaches.

“I’m pretty sure if I got two for 20 in my first couple of overs they wouldn’t be disappointed, because early wickets on flat pitches are massively important.”

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