The White Rose have claimed two consecutive County Championship titles, the first in 2014 ending a 13-year wait, but have not won a trophy in white-ball cricket since 2002.
The Vikings have reached one final since then, in the 2012 Friends Life t20 when they were defeated by Hampshire during Jason Gillespie’s first season in charge at Headingley.
Yorkshire’s attempts to address the situation have proved unsuccessful, with the signings of big-hitting Australians Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell coming to no avail in 2015, and they have now turned to Willey.
The 26-year-old has burst onto the international scene with England on the back of an array of stunning performances for former side Northamptonshire in the sprint format.
Willey, a left-arm seamer and destructive batsman, hit the headlines in the 2013 T20 final at Edgbaston when he followed a swashbuckling 27-ball 60 with fine figures of 4-9 including a hat-trick to lead Northants to their first major trophy since 1992.
He proved that was no flash in the pan in 2015, taking three wickets and then blasting a sensational 44-ball century to help the Steelbacks beat Sussex Sharks and return to Finals Day, before starring in the Big Bash League in Australia and on England’s winter tours.
And Brooks believes Willey, also part of England’s ICC World Twenty20 squad, will have a big impact at Headingley
“It is a really exciting signing for us,” he told ecb.co.uk. “I was talking to him when he was looking to leave and talking to him about how great the club was and how it was a really good place to play cricket.
“I think when Yorkshire first showed some interest, they were the only club he was going to come to. It is up to him now.
“I have got no doubt he will be a great player for us, and he will definitely improve our one-day cricket. He is a special player.
“He will be fantastic to have around, he is a strong character, and that is what this Yorkshire team is all about. I have known him since he was 19.”
Yorkshire have found life tough in the shortest format since reaching the showpiece in 2012, failing to advance from their group in the last three campaigns.
But Brooks believes the Vikings have what it takes to be a success in Twenty20 cricket and expects progress to be made this term.
“We are not as suited to Twenty20 as 50-over cricket and we still didn’t really look like improving on it from the year before which is disappointing,” the former England Lion said.
“It is difficult to pinpoint exactly, you can use excuses that we kept losing players and the team was changing a lot, but we were just not good enough.
“We are a good Twenty20 team, but we just didn’t play as a team and relied on individuals to win us games. That was the main difference.
“We have certainly got the squad to compete but we have got to nail some plans and try to find a way of winning games. I think it could be quite an exciting period over the next couple of years if we can do that.”
— Jack Brooks (@BrooksyFerret) August 19, 2015
Yorkshire made improvements in 50-over cricket last season until falling at the semi-final stage at the hands of a Michael Klinger-inspired Gloucestershire, the eventual winners.
They proved their credentials by beating a strong Essex Eagles side in their own back yard in the quarters, only to come up short in front of their home fans as Klinger smashed a brilliant unbeaten 137 in the last four.
“We got ourselves in a good position, we are actually a really good 50-over side, especially when we are near enough full strength,” Brooks said.
“We play really good solid 50-over cricket and I think we are more suited to that than Twenty20.
“To give ourselves a chance when we were behind the eight-ball at Essex and then get a home semi, it was obviously disappointing.
“Gloucester proved they are a class side and they were never going to be easy to beat. It shows that we have got improvements to make. Hopefully next year we can go one or two steps further and actually win the final.”