DAVID WILLEY warmed up for the daunting task of bowling to Chris Gayle by inflicting an agonising blow to Ben Stokes’ foot.
Left-armer Willey’s spearing yorker left Stokes sprawled on his back in the nets and clutching his left ankle.
Thankfully, he was able to continue batting and there is no lasting damage.
They call yorkers ‘toe crushers’ but Willey would have preferred to save the pain for the West Indies batsmen in Sunday’s third one-day international in Bristol.
And the man most in his sights is returning West Indies opener Chris Gayle.
The self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’ was given the all-clear after a scan on the hamstring problem that kept him out of Thursday’s washed-out second match at Trent Bridge revealed no issues.
Willey knows he must bowl with skill and accuracy – and especially swing – if he is to contain the batsman widely regarded as still the most powerful and destructive in the world.
Willey, 27, said: “It’s difficult bowling to guys like Gayle. You’re almost trying to think ahead of the game and second-guess what they’re going to do.
prem star robbed
Liverpool ace Dejan Lovren and family ‘gassed by burglars’ as they slept
flow what i mean harry
Frank Bruno sells £1m home after travellers ‘tap into water supply’
Tyson Fury rages at British boxing chief after cousin Hughie’s loss
POG OP FEAR
Manchester United worried Paul Pogba may need surgery on injured hamstring
I’ll Jack it in
Jack Wilshere snubbed new contract and plans to quit Arsenal next summer
BIG FIGHT LIVE
Parker vs Fury: All the action from the world title clash in Manchester
Stoke 0 Chelsea 4
Alvaro Morata scores sublime hat-trick as Blues stroll to comfortable win
“But you don’t want to go away from your plans too quickly. It means there’s a little calculated guesswork.
“We’ve seen what Gayle can do and he’s done it time and time again. If it’s his day, and he gets hold of the ball, he’s going to clear the ropes. Most teams have guys at the top of the order who can hit it out the park so you can’t afford to get it wrong.
“We’ve looked at footage of Gayle batting so we have an idea of where we want to bowl at him.
“If you don’t get a couple of early wickets on these flat pitches in one-day cricket, then generally the batters come exceptionally hard.”
After being a one-day regular for two years, Willey did not play at all during the Champions Trophy earlier this summer so is now seeking to re-establish himself in Eoin Morgan’s team.
Willey explained: “It’s been a tricky summer for me. I’ve not played a great deal of cricket so to get the nod for the first two games in this series has been brilliant.
“You can go the distance in white ball cricket and you have to accept that. But I feel like I’m getting somewhere back to where I want to be.
“It’s a great squad of players so there’s the added pressure of having to perform – otherwise, you’re going to be carrying the drinks.
“I want to make the opening bowling position my own. My job is to take wickets with the new ball while it’s still swinging.
“I’m fortunate that I can swing the white ball so I look to take wickets with that sideways movement. Sometimes it doesn’t work and I struggled with it earlier in the year. As a result, I lost my place.
“Now I have an opportunity to try to swing the ball, take some early wickets and hopefully cement my place.”
England are likely to be unchanged for the third match running.