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Willey hails "unbelievable" day

Alex Wakely and David Willey speak exclusively to ecb.co.uk after Northants thrashed Surrey

Northants Steelbacks’ hometown-hero David Willey was thrilled to play a decisive role as the county ended a 21-year wait for silverware with Friends Life t20 success.

The 23-year-old put in a superb all-round performance as the Steelbacks beat Surrey in the final by 102 runs, after earlier overcoming Essex Eagles by seven wickets.

Willey, who will appear for England Lions in their three-match series against Bangladesh A next week, struck the fastest half-century in this year's competition before sealing victory with a hat-trick as their opponents were skittled out for 92.

And the performance was all the more sweet for the son of former England international Peter Willey as it came for the club he has been at since he was eight years old.

“I think it’s been 21 years since the club had won a competition, so to be a part of that, and play an important role as a local Northampton lad is unbelievable," he said.

Willey was eventually dismissed for a T20 career-best 60, after hitting six fours and four sixes in his 27-ball knock, following his promotion up the order in the absence the injured Kyle Coetzer.

He bowled Jason Roy and then ran out Steven Davies as Surrey got their chase under way, before taking the final three scalps in successive balls as he ended with figures of 4-9.

David Willey celebrates his hat-trick, not immediately realising that he has just ended Northants Steelbacks' long trophy drought

But as he celebrated his hat-trick, he had not realised that he had secured the trophy.

“To be honest, (after) the hat-trick I didn’t realise we had won the game, so that was pretty special," he admitted.

“I had to ask whether we’d won.

“I opened the batting when Coetzer unfortunately dropped out injured, and to give us a decent platform for the proper batters to come in was quite special.”

The end of the long wait for a trophy comes following a run of just three format victories in the previous two seasons.

Willey believes the club have made a conscious effort to improve at all aspects of their game.

When asked what specifically had changed from last year, he said: “Everything. We’ve worked hard, the coaches have been fantastic...(we made some) some good signings.

"Ever one has just put into the team pot; everyone has contributed.

“You can’t nail it down to one thing, just absolutely everything. The guys have been fantastic throughout this year.”

Northants skipper Alex Wakely was confident his stand-in opener would deliver on the big stage.

“He has done it for us before - it wasn't a shock," he said.

“That's our detail we've got. If one of our openers went down Dave knew he would step in anyway.

“He's done it for us in the Pro40s as well - and he's shown he can be a quality all-rounder.

“That was his first (T20) fifty - and to score the fastest in the tournament shows the calibre he's in.”

Wakely also contributed a half-century to the total after he replaced Willey at the crease - ending unbeaten on 59 as his side posted a massive 194.

“When you get bit of momentum there's that belief there and you come in as a batsman and just carry on from where the last guy left off,” he said.

“You see the best teams like Notts, the best one-day teams, they just keep coming and that's the position we're getting to. We've got strikers all the way down the order and it's something for us to build on now.

“We've won this; we haven't played the perfect game at all. We played pretty good cricket here today but there's a lot of stuff we've learned that we can get better on and next year hopefully we'll be even stronger.”

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