Willey masterclass sees Northern Superchargers defeat London Spirit

The Hundred: David Willey puts on masterclass to guide Northern Superchargers to victory over London Spirit by 63 runs and fire warning shot to Eoin Morgan

  • Tuesday night was the Willey show against London Spirit’s Eoin Morgan 
  • Leg-spin pairing Adil Rashid and Mujeeb Ur Rahman also provided firepower 
  • The defeat leaves Spirit as the only men’s side in the competition yet to win

Redemption takes patience; it takes nerve, too. David Willey was left heartbroken two years ago when he agonisingly missed the cut for England’s triumphant ODI World Cup squad.

Heck, the Northern Superchargers all-rounder has been on the fringes of the national side’s plan in the past year; in and out of both the ODI and Twenty20 set-ups.

But Tuesday night was the Willey show against Eoin Morgan’s London Spirit, and a reminder to his England captain not to make the same decision twice ahead of the T20 World Cup in October. The 31-year-old smashed 81 in the Hundred’s highest men’s score so far and chipped in with two wickets to hammer Spirit by 63 runs.

Tuesday night was the Willey show against London Spirit’s Eoin Morgan at Lord’s

Willey holds aloft his Match Hero award during The Hundred match at Lord’s

Leg-spin pairing Adil Rashid and Mujeeb Ur Rahman were also key to the Northern side’s blueprint. Rashid dismissed his international colleague Morgan for 27, and Ur Rahman produced a masterclass in spin bowling as he went for a miserly six runs in 20 balls. That’s an economy rate of just 1.50 per five — simply unheard of.

It was Willey though who stole the plaudits, producing as fine a white-ball display one could construct. With the bat, his blade treated the Lord’s crowd to an evening of fireworks across both sides of the wicket. With the ball, his nagging length and seam caused immeasurable issues.

Crucially, the display succumbed Morgan to four losses in five matches — the fifth contest having been rained off.

On his chances of making England’s T20 World Cup squad, Willey said: ‘I’m always hopeful (of making T20 World Cup squad) — if you’re not hopeful, it is time to hang your boots up.

‘I missed out on the last World Cup, so I would love to play in one. But probably the worst thing that can happen to me in my cricket career has already happened (missing out on last World Cup in 2019) so if the opportunity comes, I’ll absolutely love it. If it doesn’t, it’s already happened to me once before so it won’t be the end of the world.’

It leaves Spirit as the only men’s side in the Hundred yet to win — an embarrassing statistic which leaves an indelible stain and a pending inquest considering the global success of their leader. Hopes for reaching the eliminator match are already all but over.

Spirit came into the fixture low in confidence but aware that a win was a must to salvage hopes of progressing.

The Englishman spoke to the media after guiding his side to victory over London Spirit

Morgan lost the toss and was sent out to bowl first. He loves a bit of spin in the field at the Home of Cricket — a tactic which saw his side’s slower bowlers snaffle all four wickets against Trent Rockets last week — and he continued in that vein, with both off-spin and leg-spin solely used in the first 20 balls.

Roelof van der Merwe was taken off immediately after leaking boundaries, but Mohammad Nabi dismissed Chris Lynn and kept the run rate down.

Though spin on Tuesday night did not in sum have the desired effect as the Superchargers batting line-up came down south to attack.

Willey and Harry Brook came out aggressively in the first half of the innings to solidify a partnership of 66. Brook’s mammoth 94metre six into the top tier of the member’s pavilion left punters diving for cover and typified the intent.

One could feel sorry for Morgan in the field as he depicted a picture of worry in chopping and changing his bowlers in hope of stemming the run flow.

Leg-spinner Mason Crane removed Brooks through a top edge, but Willey at the other end was applying the long handle to spray the ball consistently past the boundary rope. His six to bring up 50 just about stayed inside the ground.

Eoin Morgan’s London Spirit are now the only men’s team in The Hundred yet to taste victory

An awful final five balls from paceman Mohammad Amir saw Willey smote 15 to reach 81. It amounted to bullying on the cricket field and pushed his side to 155.

He’s not a bad bowler either is Willey, and he opened the Superchargers attack to dismiss the big-hitting Adam Rossington and Josh Inglis within the first 10 balls.

After Ben Raine dismissed Luis Reece for 20, Morgan’s task in the middle became increasingly daunting.

Ever the leader, he tried to pick up the Spirit mantle and flashed a couple of boundaries to raise scant hopes. It wasn’t to last as Rashid had him caught on the ropes and at 93 for six, the task was ebbing away.

The wickets kept tumbling via the spin duo of Rashid and Ur Rahman ripping the middle order apart, and they shared four wickets.

Raine chipped in with three wickets too as the home side were dead and buried with just one wicket remaining. A one-sided thrashing that will take some healing indeed.

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