Former England wicketkeeper Paul Nixon believes David Willey’s ‘like father like son’ beginnings will see the Northamptonshire star follow his dad’s footsteps all the way to the international stage.
Willey looks set to beat last year’s tally of 43 first-class wickets this terms as ahead of the clash with Leicestershire he had already claimed 22 LV= County Championship victims at 24.40.
But it isn’t just with the ball that the 23-year-old has contributed as Northants sit top of Division Two, Willey chipping in with 193 runs with his all-round displays earning him a nomination for the LV= County Championship Breakthrough Player of the Year Award.
Much is expected of Willey with his father Peter having played for England before turning his hand to umpiring.
But Nixon, who played alongside Peter at Leicestershire, has no doubts that David can follow in his father’s footsteps with his athleticism making all the difference.
“David makes me feel old as I played with his father Peter at Leicestershire in the late 80s early 90s,” said Nixon.
“The first thing that grabs you about David is that he is a big strong athlete who is comfortable on any sort of pitch.
“David is one to keep an eye on this year because he has started in great form and is doing all the right things.
“He makes contributions in all forms of the game and that is great to see from a young cricketer.
“Like his father he is comfortable around the pitch and is a tremendous athlete.
“As a left armer he could prove crucial because it offers good balance to the squad and it just offers something a little bit different.
“He will also score some big runs with the bat so he looks like an exciting player with a big future for sure.”
With back-to-back Ashes series all eyes will be on the senior England team as they look to keep their hands on the infamous urn.
But Nixon insists David’s nomination for the Breakthrough Award, a prize for cricketers who are England-qualified and under 24 on September 27, proves the future is bright for years to come.
“For ages Australia had this wonderful Test side and were far better than England but they took their foot off the pedal and didn’t focus on the next generation so when all these great players started to retire they had no one to replace them,” Nixon added.
“England got it right with the academies and looking towards the future and we have not only overtaken Australia in Test cricket with the senior side but also for the future I feel because we are at that point where we could probably name two different sides and we have never had that before.
“And guys like David are at the forefront of this and they are constantly raising the bar and it is great to see.”
Paul Nixon was speaking on behalf of County Championship title sponsors LV=. To Vote for your LV=County Championship Breakthrough Player, visit www.LV.com/cricket