David Willey overcomes England axe by turning focus on Yorkshire CCC’s T20 Blast bid
Willey was overlooked for the ongoing T20 series and for the forthcoming series of one-day internationals.
Willey, who played a big part in England’s rise to No 1 in 50-over cricket only to be axed for last year’s World Cup to make way for pace bowler Jofra Archer, returned to international duty for the first time since that competition in the recent one-day games against Ireland.
The Yorkshire T20 captain could not have done more to restate his case, helping England to a 2-1 win with some key performances that saw him named player-of-the-series.
However, after sitting on the sidelines for the T20 matches against Pakistan that ended on Tuesday, as England build towards next year’s T20 World Cup in India, Willey is once more out in the cold and must wonder what he has to do to get back into the warm.
Opening up on his latest frustrations, Willey said: “Obviously very disappointed to be left out of the squads. 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.
“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.
“I had another crack because of the current climate, which was great, and thoroughly enjoyed playing.
“I feel a bit hard done by, but it’s not me that makes the decisions, so I just have to move on. 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.”
Asked how he forces his way back into the team, seeing as he took 5-30, scored 47 not out and hit 51 in successive games against Ireland, Willey quipped: “Bring back football and take a few of the bowlers out?
“Nah,” he continued, “do you know what, I’m not even looking at that now. 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.”
Willey hit the ground running against Ireland despite not having played since a stint with Delhi Bulls last November in the Abu Dhabi T10.
The 30-year-old lost his love for the sport after his World Cup disappointment but the old fire was back against Ireland.
“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,” he added.
“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 – appointed T20 captain by the club in February – revealed that he had received an offer to play in the Indian Premier League, which begins on September 19 in the United Arab Emirates and ends on November 10.
But Yorkshire do not finish their T20 group campaign until September 20, while Finals Day does not take place until October 3.
“I had an offer,” he said. “The problem is there’s a crossover with the Blast and the IPL, so I said I’m available from when the Blast finishes.
“I want to captain Yorkshire in the Blast and see that through, so if there’s an opportunity that comes after that (IPL), great. There may still be opportunities which I’m open to.”
A stint in the Australian Big Bash League would be similarly appetising, with that competition running from December 3 to February 6. However, family comes first for the talented all-rounder.
“Again, there’s been a bit of interest there,” he said. “But the issue for me there will be family travel. I’m not willing to spend that long away from my family.
“If that changes, I’ll bite someone’s hand off to get over and play, play any of the franchise cricket really, but it’s just weighing everything up.”
For now, it is all about Yorkshire.
“There are areas we can improve, but we want to play a very positive brand of cricket,” he said. “It’s a bit cliche, but we’re always looking to take the positive option in T20, and I back the lads 100 per cent.”
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Thank you, James Mitchinson. Editor.