England pacer David Willey cut an emotional figure after England’s last league match against Pakistan in Kolkata. The medium pacer, who had already announced his international retirement, then talked about the circumstances that led to this decision, in an emotional post-match press conference on Saturday.
“My time is done because I’ve called time on it, but it’s with deep regret. I think anybody looking in has probably looked at the way I’ve gone about my business and probably playing the best cricket of my career. I’m 33, as fit as I’ve ever been. So, one of the reasons that I wasn’t offered a contract was them going in a different direction after the World Cup, I don’t know why.,” he said, when asked if there was any frustration of walking out of the team way ahead of his time.
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The decision to retire came after the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced the men’s central contracts with the 33-year-old the only one omitted from the list among those in the England squad in the World Cup.
‘Always a fringe player’
Talking about going into the field as an England player one last time, Willey admitted: “I have mixed emotions. It was nice to go out there with clarity on what I am doing beyond this. My situation with England has always been that I am on the fringe. Very much a squad player. I have been very much at peace with that but that does not mean that it has been easy. Being in that position, never knowing where you stand from toss to toss. So look, it was lovely to go out there and enjoy my last game of cricket as an England player.”
The seamer who has represented England since 2015, also delved further on when he thought he would call it quits, saying that the uncertainty surrounding his place in the 2024 T20 World Cup also played a big part in coming to his decision. “I think being told that they’re likely to go in a different direction after the World Cup. I think that was the final nail in the coffin for me,” he said. In eight years, he mustered only 72 games despite an average 29 and a strike rate of 32.
The uncertainty of future played a big role in his decision. “I believe I could still be a part of that World Cup. An injury or two, and they’re going to be calling on someone with very little to no experience in World Cups. I think I could still have played a part in that World Cup. I feel like I’m probably playing my best cricket. So that was part of my decision-making with my family. But it’s been a period for some time now and like I’ve just touched on not knowing quite where I stand with England and it’s just taken its toll and becomes very tiring,” Willey said.
Willey, who got to 100 wickets in the match against Pakistan and was awarded the player of the match, wasn’t sure if he would join the World Cup team due to his contract situation. “I wasn’t sure whether I was going to come to the World Cup even at the 11th hour. The morning that we were joining up at Lords, I still wasn’t sure whether I’d make the trip or not,” he said.
“It’s not just that I haven’t been offered a contract. It’s sort of how I feel valued as an England player there when I look down that list of other guys that have got contracts. So yeah, it had been on my mind. I’d spoken with my family, I’d spoken with Jos, Motty – and then it came to the decision that the time was right for me to call it a day,” he added.