David Willey has opened up on how he feels “hard done by” by his latest England snub after he was left out of both squads for the ODI and T20I series against Australia.
The Yorkshire all-rounder was England’s Player of the Series in their 2-1 ODI series win against Ireland and earned a place for the three-match T20I series against Pakistan. But he spent that series running drinks as England picked the same side for all three games, and found himself out of the picture altogether for the visit of Australia, with England’s Test stars once again available for selection.
Speaking to the Yorkshire Post, Willey explained how he turned down the opportunity of being an England reserve for Australia’s visit in order to get playing time captaining the Yorkshire Vikings in the T20 Blast.
“Obviously very disappointed to be left out of the squads,” he said. “I didn’t feel like being a reserve was the right thing for me if I’m not involved, so I came back to get my teeth into T20 cricket for Yorkshire.”
Willey could hardly have done much more to make his case against Ireland. The left-armer claimed his maiden ODI five-wicket haul in the first game of the series, before taking 2-48 and sealing England’s chase with an unbeaten 47 in the second ODI. Another career-best followed in the third ODI, this time with the bat, as Willey struck a half-century in England’s first innings, but he conceded 1-70 as Ireland chased down 329 to win.
“People always talk about taking your opportunities, and I got another crack against Ireland and, you know, obviously not good enough to hold my spot… so, yeah, just look forward,” he said.
“I had another crack because of the current climate, which was great, and thoroughly enjoyed playing. There’s no such thing as a perfect game, or a perfect series, but if you’d offered that before the series I’d have taken it.
“But, you know, I’m sure they (the selectors) are not just looking at one series, and obviously the Test boys weren’t available to play against Ireland, so that’s why my opportunity came. My attention now turns to my job here at Yorkshire, and that’s my No.1 focus.”
Willey’s absence is especially puzzling because his specialty – taking wickets in the Powerplay in T20 cricket – is one of England’s biggest areas for improvement. They have claimed just three wickets in the first six overs across the six T20Is they have played this year. On the latest Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, CricViz analyst Ben Jones explained how he felt England “underrate” Willey.
“Nobody in T20 history has taken more wickets at a lower strike-rate than Willey [in the Powerplay],” said Jones. “He’s fantastic in that phase. He’s a fantastic player and I think England do underrate him.
“I feel a bit hard done by, but it’s not me that makes the decisions, so I just have to move on,” said Willey. “I don’t make the decisions. I just get the phone call with the bad news and then have to move on again. As I say, I couldn’t have done much more against Ireland, and that’s still not good enough, so I just have to come back and try harder.”
While Willey had an out-of-the-box solution for how to force his way back into contention – “Bring back football and take a few of the bowlers out?” – he says he is now not even thinking about what he can do to impress England.
“Nah, do you know what? I’m not even looking at that now,” he said. “I’m just going to try and perform day-in, day-out for Yorkshire, and if they (England) change their mind and decide I’m good enough to be a part of a squad, then great.”