England all-rounder David Willey, who made a roaring comeback to the side with a five-wicket haul against Ireland on Thursday, admitted that he “wasn’t sure” if he’d get the opportunity to play for England “after the last 12 months.”
Willey, who played his first ODI for England since May 2019, picked up career-best figures of 5-30 in the side’s six-wicket win over Ireland in the first of the three games. The 30-year-old, who made his ODI debut in 2015, was in line for a place in the 2019 World Cup, before Jofra Archer edged him for a spot in the 15-man squad.
“I wasn’t sure if my opportunity would come again after the last 12 months,” Willey said after the win in Southampton. “I had been a part of that group for four years and to miss out at the 11th hour was obviously difficult but what the guys went on to achieve was phenomenal.
“I am enjoying playing cricket again – I absolutely love being out there and wearing the Three Lions again and it was a bonus it went well.
“The circumstances with Covid are probably why I have got my opportunity and you don’t know whether it is going to be the last one. For me it is about going out and enjoying every minute.”
On Thursday, Willey’s opening burst of three wickets helped reduce Ireland to 28-5, returning later to claim his final two scalps to bundle the team out for 172. After the match, Willey garnered praise from skipper Eoin Morgan, who hailed his “fantastic comeback”; the left-armer, who is aware that every opportunity that comes his way “could be the last one”, wants to just enjoy his game for now.
England bowl Ireland out for 172!
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) July 30, 2020
“As it got close to that World Cup selection, you probably start thinking about it a little bit more rather than just going out and playing cricket,” he added. “But that’s been and gone now. I am 30 and however many games I play I want to enjoy them.
“I play my best cricket when I’m enjoying it. That’s the most important thing for me at the minute and hopefully, results keep coming.”