David Willey has admitted that Saturday’s NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day is going to be an emotional one for him.
But the Steelbacks all-rounder is hoping he will be crying tears of joy come Saturday night at Edgbaston, rather than any tears of disappointment.
Yorkshire-bound Willey could well play his final game for his home county Northants at the weekend, as his selection for England’s T20 and ODI squads to take on Australia means he is unlikely to be available for the last three LV= Championship games.
So Willey is desperate to go out with a bang, by first seeing off Birmingham Bears in the semi-final, and then following it up with a win in the final as well.
“It will be an emotional day, regardless of what happens,” admitted the 25-year-old. “In theory it could potentially be my last games for Northants, with the England one-day stuff coming up as well.
“So it will be an emotional day, but I hope it is going to be tears of joy with a trophy in my hand and a winner’s medal.
“But we can only look so far ahead. We have a massive game against Birmingham first, and we have to play well.”
For the Steelbacks to even be playing at finals day is an achievement, especially when you take into account they lost their first three group games.
But the 2013 champions got over their early-season problems, won six of their next eight, and qualified for the quarter-finals.
Sussex Sharks were then seen off in stunning style at Hove, with Willey scoring a scintillating 100 from 40 balls, and the Northampton-born all-rounder believes the momentum is now with him and his team-mates.
“To be quite honest, we played some terrible cricket in those first three games and we have done well to turn it around,” admitted Willey.
“In T20 and one-day cricket momentum is a massive thing, and to turn things around from three defeats is a credit to the lads in the dressing room, and obviously to Rips as well to make that happen.
“We did well to get into the knockout stages, and then it was a great performance from the team in the quarter-final down at Hove.
“It is about peaking at the right time, and hopefully we are going to be doing that.
“On a personal level it would be nice to finish at Northants with some silverware, but for the club to be there again, having won it in 2013, is fantastic.
“It would be brilliant if we could win it again.
“At the start of the year, the club prioritised one-day cricket, and if you look at our team-sheet we have some fantastic one-day players.
“From outside we are probably going there as underdogs again, but we don’t see it like that.
“We have a team full of players capable of putting in some brilliant performances and winning games.”
The Steelbacks will get finals day up and running at 11am at a sell-out Edgbaston when they take on home side Birmingham in the first semi-final.
And Willey is hoping it is going to be third-time lucky against a Bears side that beat Northants twice in the group stages, with both matches going down to the final ball.
Indeed, Willey feels the fact Birmingham won those games might be a help for Northants.
“Birmingham have beaten us twice this year, so maybe that is a blessing in disguise as we are going to be massive underdogs, and they might think it’s going to be an easy game,” said Willey.
“There is no doubt it is going to be a tough game, but if we pitch up and play to our ability then there is no reason why we can’t beat them.”
“They are similar to us in that they have a lot of good players, so it is going to be a good game.
“But if we do turn up and play at our best, then we don’t need to worry what they are going to do. Playing Birmingham is a massive game first up, and if we can win that then we will believe we can go on and win the final.”