David Willey celebrated his first call up to the full England squad by smashing 88 and taking a wicket as Northants dominated Day Three against Leicestershire at Grace Road.
After Willey’s innings took Northants to 429 all out in their second innings, setting Leicestershire a target of 376, Willey then removed Dan Redfern to leave the hosts 44/1 at the close, Northants requiring a further nine wickets for a first Championship win since August 2013.
An early morning wobble had seen them sip to 142/5 but Rob Newton and Josh Cobb steadied the innings with half-centuries, before Willey and Rory Kleinveldt’s brutal partnership of 97 took Northants past the 400 mark.
Willey is the first Northamptonshire player to be named in a full England squad since Monty Panesar played in the 2009 Ashes series and he said it was a special moment to follow his dad in getting the call up.
“I got the call yesterday evening from the head of selectors so a special, special moment for me,” he said after play. “I hoped that I might get a look, knowing they’re coming back from the West Indies, and very pleased and honoured to not only play for Northants but follow my dad’s footsteps for England.
“I think everyone knows it was a bit of a disappointing winter for the England side and there are some new faces, obviously largely because the guys are in the West Indies, but some opportunities there for us and it would just be a pleasure to get out there and get an England cap.
“I’d like to think I might not have been far away [before a back injury at the end of 2013], there was a T20 World Cup and obviously the 50-over [World Cup], personally I was playing fairly well at the back end of 2013 in one-day cricket, but that’s how sport works, you get injured, miss out and start at the bottom of the pile again.”
Willey’s 88 followed his maiden first class century in the opening Championship match against Gloucestershire, and he is confident they can do what they failed to on that occasion and take the ten wickets required for victory.
“I seem to be seeing the ball quite nicely, just need to keep in my shell a little bit sometimes, get a bit giddy, I’m bowling alright, not quite at my best I don’t think in the red ball stuff but one day cricket’s very different so pretty pleased with my cricket at the minute and I’m really enjoying it.
“If we put the ball in the right areas there’s still enough in the wicket to make things happen so if we pitch up tomorrow and bowl like we did early on yesterday there’s a good chance we can take nine wickets and come away with the win.”
Resuming on 105/2, Northants were soon in trouble on the third morning as three wickets fell for 13 runs in 20 deliveries, Wakely miscuing a pull off Ollie Freckingham to mid-on to go for 40 before Rob Keogh (1) and Adam Rossington (7) fell to Clint McKay, bowled and caught behind respectively.
With a lead of only 88, Leicestershire were eyeing a first Championship win of their own in over two years, but Newton and Cobb battled through to lunch, though Cobb was dropped at slip by Mark Cosgrove without score.
A match that had remained fairly level throughout the first seven sessions then swung decisively for Northants in the afternoon as they smashed 180 runs in 34 overs to take the lead beyond 300, including half-century partnerships for the sixth, seventh and eighth wickets.
Newton completed a second half-century of the match before falling for 58, bowled by McKay after a stand of 78 with Cobb, but Willey ensured the momentum continued, taking the attack to the new ball.
Cobb, returning to Grace Road for the first time since leaving to joining Northants, reached his half century off 120 balls, but departed the following over for 54, strangled down the leg side off McKay, but that only set the stage for Kleinveldt to join Willey, their brutal partnership taking only 71 balls.
Willey reached a 43-ball fifty with his 11th four, while Kleinveldt clubbed two sixes and eight boundaries, reaching his own half century in just 32 balls, before holing out at deep midwicket for 56.
There was still time for Olly Stone to record a first-class best of 28 in adding 47 with Willey, who took Freckingham for 18 in the over after tea but then only faced one of the next 48 deliveries.
Stone was bowled by Shreck before Willey fell in an attempt to reach a second century, slicing a drive off Shreak to be caught at deep point.
With Leicestershire requiring their third highest chase in Championship history, Willey soon struck as Dan Redfern loosely drove straight to Rob Newton at point on 6 in the sixth over.
Willey’s day would have one slight blemish however as he put down a tough low chance at slip off Ned Eckersley in the following Kleinveldt over, with Eckersley and Angus Robson making it to the close without further lose, and will resume on 25 and 6 respectively – 332 runs adrift of the target.