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Michael Atherton
Cricket Expert & Columnist

Atherton and Hussain hail Northants' Friends Life t20 Final victory over Surrey

David Willey: Hat-trick, and half century, hero

Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain tipped all-rounder David Willey for an England future after inspiring Northamptonshire to a 102-run victory over Surrey in the Friends Life t20 Final.

Willey hit a 19-ball half-century to help Northants to a 194-2 total in a match reduced to 18 overs by a rain delay at Edgbaston. And he then exceeded his batting exploits, by taking a hat-trick and running out Steven Davies with a direct hit as Surrey were dismissed for 92 in 13.3 overs.

"They played the best cricket. What holes can you pick in their performance - there were those three (dropped) catches in the first semi-final, two from Cameron White and one from the captain, but apart from that they played near-perfect Twenty20 cricket."

Michael Atherton

The all-rounder, who is the son of former England cricket Peter Willey, ended with figures of 4-9 and the man of the match award as Northants claimed their first major piece of silverware in 21 years. And Atherton, the former England captain, believes Willey has a big future ahead of him.

"There were three young left armers: Reece Topley, Chris Wood and David Willey. David Willey has shone tonight," Atherton told Sky Sports.

"That is not to say that the other two are not good cricketers because I happen to think Chris Wood is an excellent one-day bowler and there will be a time to come for Rhys Topley as well. But David Willey here tonight has been outstanding with bat and ball.

"If he can perform like that on the biggest stage - when all the selectors are watching, everybody in English cricket is watching and all the commentators and pundits who make statements about the teams to be picked - they are all watching so it is a great day to do it."

Team effort

Northants win Friends Life t20 Final

Hussain agreed with his fellow Sky Sports pundit about Willey's potential future as an international player, but also emphasised that Northants' victory was a true team effort.

"He (Willey) played really well," Hussain said. "To do it in a final, there was absolutely no choke at all from this Northants side.

"From the first ball we were all looking at Richard Levi, Cameron White and may be Steven Crook, and then on left field comes Willey and comes Wakely. They played brilliantly. They really are a team unit. They don't just rely on one player.

"He (Willey) bowled beautifully and was very good in the field. He is an outstanding cricketer and will be looking at England selection."

Hussain added: "You can bet that someone like David Willey - there will be a lot of interest from the big clubs now in someone like David Willey. They have got to keep their good players."

Near-perfect cricket

Atherton admitted that he had not expected a Northants victory in the culmination of the Friends Life t20 competition. But after a seven-wicket victory over Essex in the opening semi-final earlier in the day and a landslide victory in the final, Northants more than deserved their win after playing near-perfect cricket, according to Atherton.

"Those who have watched Northants through this tournament will not be surprised by them running out winners tonight," Atherton said.

"But I have not seen a lot of them in T20 this year, so you arrive at the ground and look at the names that Essex have got, and you look at Surrey's pedigree and Hampshire the defending champions, and you think that Northants might be fourth favourites.

"But there is absolutely no doubt that they are deserved winners here. They played the best cricket. What holes can you pick in their performance - there were those three (dropped) catches in the first semi-final, two from Cameron White and one from the captain, but apart from that they played near-perfect Twenty20 cricket."