Ed Smith has explained the decision to leave David Willey – England’s Player of the Series against Ireland earlier this month – out of the squads for the upcoming white-ball series against Australia, highlighting the national side’s “strength in depth”.
Prior to his return for three ODIs against Ireland, Willey had not played for England since May of last year; despite being a regular presence in the white-ball set-up ahead of the 2019 World Cup, he was discarded from the final 15-man squad in place of Jofra Archer.
The left-arm quick enjoyed a strong comeback against Ireland, taking a career-best five-wicket haul in the first ODI, hitting an unbeaten 47 in a winning run chase the next match and rounding off the series with a half-century.
Nevertheless, with a number of England Test stars returning to the white-ball set-up for the Australia series – Sam Curran will provide a left-arm option for England in both squads – Willey has been left out once again. The 30-year-old, currently in England’s squad for the ongoing T20I series with Pakistan at Old Trafford, was informed of his omission by Smith earlier on Monday.
“David’s gone away, he’s worked on things, he’s shown how resilient and determined he is as a cricketer,” said Smith, England’s chief selector. “He’s come back having put in a lot of hard work. He’s also talked about how he felt refreshed going into this season and that’s been reflected in some strong performances, including against Ireland.
“The fact is, with David, is that we are preferring, at the moment, some other people to him. That’s a very difficult decision. It’s of course extremely disappointing from David’s point of view, who is playing good cricket and still has ambitions to be in all the England white-ball sides. But that’s one of the unfortunate consequences of having a lot of strength in depth. We work hard on trying to establish strength in depth.
“From an individual point of view, the downside is that players who have done very well, even recently, still can’t find a place in the squad, and that’s the situation with David. Everything he achieved against Ireland has been noted. His performances over a number of years are well understood by the selectors, but in this instance, we are giving opportunities to other people.
“I spoke to David today. He’s an outstanding man. I’ve had a number of difficult conversations with David from a decision point of view in that I’ve been communicating difficult decisions. Last summer before the World Cup was one example. This is another example. He played well against Ireland, he is playing well. The decision is not an easy one and he’s disappointed. But what you always get with David is an extremely dignified and outstanding man who will make his position clear but also craves clarity from your side, and it was a very honest conversation.”