David Willey was not surprised when the phone rang. On the other side of the line, Ed Smith, national selector, brought the grim but inevitable news that he had been dropped from England’s 2019 World Cup team in favor of Jofra Archer.
Similarly, four years of hard graft evaporated. Willey, who had played a key role in the one-day revival of his country after the ruins of 2015, glanced out of his kitchen window and into the garden where his wife played a glorious May day with their two young children.
“I went outside and immersed myself in playing with tractors in the sand,” the 29-year-old, desperately unlucky to miss in the provisional team, explains in his first interview since last year’s heartache.
David Willey reveals his grief about missing selection for the Cricket World Cup 2019
“It gave me a little perspective – but it didn’t make it easier.”
For reasonable onlookers, Willey’s predecessor in favor of Archer was relentless. It is admirable that the all-rounder, who has just been named the leader of Yorkshire’s Twenty20, does not hold a grudge, but admits that watching England’s glorious World Cup final was tough.
“The expectation was that it didn’t hurt less,” he says. ‘I remember shedding a tear during the final. I was part of that group of boys for four years, so it was hard to watch – but I was absolutely delighted with the boys I had been with at the time and it was absolutely brilliant for English cricket. “
England chose to drop left poorer Willey (left) in favor of newcomer Jofra Archer (right)
While Willey was watching the march of England to glory, Archer bowed the super over which Eoin Morgan’s side gave their precious victory.
Willey is pragmatic. “It’s professional sport,” he says. ‘You are the taste of the month for one minute and when things change, you are pushed aside. That’s not just cricket, not just cricket in England, that’s every way of life. “
He emphasizes once again that he could see it coming. “I had no illusions,” he explains.
“It was clear that Archer would come in and miss someone. I had not played well and had not played regularly, so I knew that I was going to be one or two of the guys it was going to be.
“I was completely disappointed, but I was not surprised. Archer is a brilliant cricket player, that is undeniable. They went on to win and I definitely searched for them. “
Archer went on to throw the super into the final when England defeated New Zealand to win the title
Willey offered his congratulations quickly. “I sent a message to every boy in that group,” he says. “I am not at all bitter about it. I played with them for four years and we had been traveling. “
Did they respond? “Most of them,” he says. “There were a few who didn’t, but yes …”
Willey’s exile continued this winter when he was not chosen to travel to New Zealand or South Africa. He did receive a call to tell him that England was looking at other options, but he has not heard anything since. No message from new coach Chris Silverwood to let him know where he stands? “No,” he says. “I haven’t heard from anyone to be honest.”
During a telephone conversation, Willey heard the bad news from national selector Ed Smith
Anyway, he remains hopeful for a recall and has not turned his back on him, despite the fact that some people think he has the right to do so.
“It’s sport,” he explains. ‘My wife (singer-songwriter Carolynne) has worked in music. She knows how killing it is – probably more than cricket. She understands. She was a great support for me.
“I make it sound like something very traumatic! It was disappointing, but I will never close the door. I want to play cricket for England. I want to play at the highest possible level. I am quickly 30, but I definitely do not feel that my career in England is over and I actually feel that my best cricket should come. “
The one-day Yorkshire captain insisted that he still cherishes his memories with England
It is a measure of Willey’s character that he can say what he then says. “If I play well, just like with Archer, they couldn’t leave him out,” he explains. “That’s what I want to do, where I want to be. If I perform so well that they cannot let me out, then it is great.
“I have not closed any doors. I’m not going to be miraculously called at night, but if I perform well and take care of my game, (a return) will take care of itself. “
Performing well means excelling at Headingley in his new role. “It gives me a new focus and has come to the perfect moment in my career,” he says. “I took stock in the winter and am really alive for the summer.”
Willey’s attitude is impressive and his drive remains clear. Just like his sense of humor. The North-handed left-handed man who came to work from Northants near Yorkshire in 2015 is asked whether he feels privileged to be a southerner in charge of the white rose.
“We have an overseas captain this year!” he responds with a smile. “This is one of the largest clubs in the world. I am honoured. I just want to win silverware. “