SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JULY 31: David Willey of England celebrates taking the wicket of Quinton De Kock of South Africaduring the 3rd Vitality IT20 match between England and South Africa at The Ageas Bowl on July 31, 2022 in Southampton, England. (Photo by Henry Browne/Getty Images)

Sydney Thunder are delighted to have selected platinum-level bolter David Willey, who may have surprised some by being picked at No.7 in Sunday's BBL Draft.

The English fast bowler is a proven BBL performer, having played 27 matches across four seasons with the Perth Scorchers, while he has also floated in and out of England's white-ball sides in recent years.

While Willey seemingly lacked the marketing appeal to be considered a platinum pick, he was still selected by the Sydney Thunder ahead of platinum-level considerations such as Andre Russell, Kieron Pollard and Faf du Plessis.

His point of difference, being that he is available for the entire BBL season including finals, had Sydney Thunder assistant coach Shawn Bradstreet convinced of their first pick ahead of Sunday's draft.

"He's got great experience with the Scorchers over the years and being available for the full tournament was a big thing for us, so we were really happy he was still available," said Bradstreet.

Player availability was uncovered as a deciding factor at the draft for all BBL clubs last Sunday, and Willey will link up with the Thunder for the entire summer under former England coach Trevor Bayliss. reports that Willey had received offers to play in the competing South African domestic T20 league in January, although he refused those prospects to travel to Australia.

"Although I could have potentially made myself partially available and then gone and played in the South Africa league, in my circumstances from a family point of view, it was important that we were together for an extended period and doing that in one country," he said.

"This calendar year I spent about 16 out of 18 weeks away at the start of the year with the (Pakistan Super League and Indian Premier League) and … I've got two young children, so it was really important for me and my family that we spend time together.

"As you've probably picked up from the draft, there was a lot of discussion and comments about availability.

"And you look at some of the guys that haven't been picked up and I'm sure availability is a massive part of that.

"Sides that generally do well are sides that have got some continuity in selection throughout the competition so how that's played out has been a pretty big part in the draft this year."

Willey has played eight ODIs in 2022 and 11 T20Is, and missed out on featuring in last year's T20 World Cup despite being named in the 15-player squad.