David Willey reveals England have been dunking cricket balls in water to gear up for T20 World Cup

David Willey reveals England’s bowlers have been dunking cricket balls in water to mimic impact of sweat and dew as they gear up for the sweltering heat in Dubai for T20 World Cup

  • England begin their T20 World Cup on Saturday against West Indies
  • The side are preparing to endure gruelling heat throughout the tournament
  • David Willey has opened up on the efforts England are making in order to adapt 

England are preparing for the extreme heat of a World Cup in the Gulf by dunking cricket balls in water to replicate the effects of sweat and dew.

With temperatures in Dubai touching 36 degrees ahead of their opening game against West Indies on Saturday, England are concerned that perspiration will make the ball hard to grip for spinners and seamers alike. Insiders believe they have not faced conditions like it since a tour of Bangladesh in late 2016.

The difficulty is compounded by the dew – a huge problem for the side bowling second under lights. The toss could be crucial over the next few weeks, so England are grateful that Friday’s practice session will start at 6pm local time, allowing them to acclimatise ahead of their day/night tournament opener.

David Willey and England are gearing up for the intense heat of Dubai for T20 World Cup

‘We’ve got to think about how we’re going to keep our hands and arms dry, how to dry the ball and how to bowl with a wet ball,’ said left-arm seamer David Willey.

‘It’s something we’ve discussed, even if it’s just dunking balls in buckets, and catching, fielding and bowling with these wet balls. We’ll probably get some more towels and sweat bands on the way, to change them every over for the lads that are heavy sweaters. You start sweating and you just can’t stop. You just get saturated from head to toe.

‘If the spinners are trying to grip the ball, it’s going to be a challenge if it’s soaking wet. The biggest thing for the seamers, towards the back end when you’re sweating the most, is being confident about bowling yorkers.’

Willey said England have been dunking cricket balls in water to mimic the impact of sweat

Willey said England have been dunking cricket balls in water to mimic the impact of sweat

Willey took a while to get over his omission from the 50-over World Cup in 2019, and had not played a T20 international for over two years until he was chosen for four matches in the summer against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

But he believes he is a ‘better person’ for what happened two years ago. ‘I don’t think anything that happens in my cricketing career will ever be as bad or disappointing as that,’ he said.

And he has experience to call on, not least against world champions West Indies themselves. Willey took three for 20 – the best figures in the match – on the night Carlos Brathwaite launched Ben Stokes into Kolkata’s stratosphere in 2016. 

Willey will use the experience of missing England's 50-over World Cup in the coming weeks

Willey will use the experience of missing England’s 50-over World Cup in the coming weeks

Three years later in Basseterre, he helped bowl them out for 71 with figures of four for seven – the second-best analysis in England’s T20 history.

Meanwhile, Willey has backed Eoin Morgan to overcome his dismal form as he sets about trying to unite the limited-overs titles. The England captain averaged 11 in the recent IPL wit Kolkata Knight Riders, and has said he would be willing to drop himself if it helps the team.

But Willey insisted: ‘Morgs is one of those guys who turns up when it counts, so don’t be surprised if he has an absolute blinder of a tournament and comes out as top run-scorer. He’s one of those players. He’s a match-winner with the bat but his captaincy alone is phenomenal.’

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