Willey makes long-awaited return to bowling

David Willey will play a full part in the County's game against Sri Lanka
David Willey will play a full part in the County's game against Sri Lanka
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Northamptonshire all-rounder David Willey has been declared fit to bowl in the four-day clash with Sri Lanka that starts tomorrow (Thursday).

The tourists are in town for their only first-class outing before the two-Test series with England opens at Lord’s next week and followers of the County will be heartened by the news that Willey is nearing a full-scale comeback.

It is expected that his bowling workload in the fixture wil be restricted but the aim will be to have him back in his usual role for the visit of Warwickshire in the County Championship aweek on Sunday.

Speaking about his retyrn, head coach David Ripley said: “This has been pencilled in for a while and it’s good to have him back.

“His bowling has been progressing nicely over the past couple of weeks and he’s ticked all of the boxes we’ve asked of him physically.

“We’ll probably keep him to something like a dozen overs in the first innings and eight in the second and monitor how he pulls up.”

There will also be a first-class debut for James Kettleborough who will open the batting alongside captain Stephen Peters.

With the top order all in poor form in the Championship - only James Middlebrook averages above 30 - this represents a good opportunity for the batsman and Ripley is looking forward to seeing how he fares.

“He’s not been short of runs in the second team since he joined us,” he added.

“This will be a good test for him and he’s waited patiently for an opportunity.

“This is a good chance for him to put some pressure on our batters.”

Another unfamiliar name is that of seam bowler Chad Barratt - he appeared against Durham University last month - who will make up a three-strong seam attack with Willey and Steven Crook.

Richard Levi will be a third first-class debutant for the club and he is likely to bat in the middle order.

Northants: Peters, Kettleborough, Keogh, Levi, Coetzer, Duckett, Spriegel, Crook, Willey, White, Barratt.