Michael Yardy: 'This time last year playing for England wasn't even on my radar'

Interview No 8: The spinner tells Will Hawkes about his role in breaking the nation's one-day duck with victory in the World Twenty20 tournament

As the battle for the Ashes rages on, it's easy to forget that England have already secured one notable triumph this year. In May the national side carried off the World Twenty20, in the process banishing a shameful status as the only major cricket nation never to have won a one-day trophy. That they completed the job with a thumping win over Australia in the final merely gilded the lily.

A victory that changed English cricket can have affected few cricketers more than Michael Yardy, Sussex's captain and all-rounder. Yardy, who formed a formidable spin partnership with Graeme Swann, says that he had not expected to be part of the England side before he was named in the provisional 30-man squad. Now he is a Twenty20 gun for hire, playing in New Zealand's domestic competition and in the IPL auction next month.

"It's been a funny year. This time last year playing cricket for England wasn't on my radar," he says. "I did well in domestic cricket in 2009 [when Sussex won the Twenty20 Cup], especially in the bowling department, so I thought I might have a chance and then I was in the 30. The more I spoke to people, the more I realised I had a better chance than I first thought."

Yardy says that England entered the tournament believing they could win it. "The squad was very relaxed, but there was a real confidence among the lads; everyone really believed that we had a chance in that tournament," he says. "We seemed to have every base covered and I think that showed."

The vital moment came with victory over South Africa in the Super Eight stage, Yardy believes. England batted first and then bowled out Graeme Smith's team for 129, Yardy taking two for 32. "From that moment onwards we realised we had a good chance," he says. "The confidence was massive and there was a real belief.

"I came on and bowled into the wind; I got Hershelle Gibbs and Albie Morkel. It was really special – not just for me personally, because I was happy with the way I played, but for the team. That was definitely the moment for me when I thought, 'We've got a great chance of winning the tournament.'"

One of the key men for England was Swann. His influence in the dressing room is almost as important as his bowling ability, Yardy says. "He bowled exceptionally well through the tournament and if he wasn't the best bowler in the tournament he was one of them," he says. "It was nice to bowl with him and he complemented me. In all forms of the game, he is the best bowler in the world.

"He's a personality and a character, and when tense situations come he's always got a smile on his face and he relaxes people. In the last 18 months of his career he's played his best cricket and he is oozing confidence. That rubs off on people. He is a great guy to have around."

But Swann is far from the only strong character in the England set-up, Yardy points out. "The England set-up is really professional now," he says. "There is a kind of tightness in the group and everyone works for each other. It's like a club team in the sense that everyone has a good joke and a good laugh and it is great to be involved but when we need to get very professional, we do. I think that comes not just from the management but from the senior players as well. Everyone takes responsibility for what they have to do and it's a very good environment to be involved in at the moment."

Yardy has been enjoying the Ashes as much as anyone ("For me, that's real cricket") and will be in Australia himself soon as part of the England one-day team. "I'm itching to get over there," he says. "Obviously there is a huge rivalry between England and Australia and, OK, it's not the Ashes but there's a World Cup coming up – it's as big a series as you're going to get, and I can't wait to compete on that stage.

"I've had a great 2010; I couldn't have asked for a better year on the cricket field. As long as I keep working hard, I don't see why I can't have an equally successful 2011."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific