David Willey says best is yet to come after sparkling return to England fold
David Willey suggested his best years are still ahead of him as he revelled in the feeling of being back in an England jersey after starring in a six-wicket win over Ireland in the Royal London series opener.
Willey was jettisoned in favour of the newly-qualified Jofra Archer in England’s World Cup squad last year, but the left-armer marked his international return at the Ageas Bowl with five for 30 as Ireland stumbled to 172 all out.
It was his first five-wicket haul for England, who lurched to 78 for four in reply but Sam Billings – another who missed out on a World Cup squad place, ruled out of contention due to a dislocated shoulder – rode to the rescue.
Billings’ ODI best 67 not out helped the hosts to their target with more than 22 overs to spare as they drew first blood in this three-match series which marks the start of a qualifying tournament for the 2023 World Cup.
“It was just special to be playing for England again,” Willey said. “My main priority was to enjoy it, so the (five wickets) were just the icing on the cake.
“I’ve been working quite hard to try to get back to my best and if not better than I have been previously. It’s been a roller coaster but I was just out there enjoying my cricket.
“I’m moving in the right direction and I feel like my best cricket is still to come. But it’s just great to be back out there wearing this shirt with the Three Lions on, so I just want to enjoy it.”
Willey had been a regular in the England side that rose from the shambles of the 2015 World Cup to topping the ODI rankings as part of a remarkable transformation under Eoin Morgan over the next four years.
But after England went on to win the World Cup without him, Willey has previously said he started to come to terms with the idea his international career might be coming to an end after being overlooked for limited-overs assignments in New Zealand and South Africa last winter.
Willey, though, highlighted England’s strength in depth in the white-ball formats, emphasised by some of the talents that have been left out of this 14-man squad which is missing several World Cup stars due to their Test commitments.
“It is an unbelievable squad,” the 30-year-old said. “You just have to look at the guys who didn’t get a look in and some of the guys who have gone home from this camp trying to find a way.
“It is credit to English cricket how many players there are trying to get in the side.
“Circumstances have given me this opportunity. I didn’t get a look in over the winter, I missed out there. The extended break has been really good for me.
“The timing for all of this has worked out perfectly for me and it was the icing on the cake for me.”
While Ireland managed to cause a few jitters in the home dressing room, they were ultimately left to rue an underwhelming collective display from their batsmen after limping to 28 for five.
However, debutant Curtis Campher, a South African-born all-rounder who qualifies through his mother’s passport and who has never before even played in Ireland, helped his country avoid complete embarrassment.
An innings of 59 not out from 118 balls may look pedestrian by modern standards, but his composed and watchful knock thwarted England for a spell and made sure they were not faced with a perfunctory chase.
Ireland captain Andrew Balbirnie said: “I thought it was very impressive for a guy who has come in and he’s not even played a game in the country yet in Ireland.
“To come in as a 21-year-old and put in a performance like that was exactly what we needed. It was as good a debut as I’ve seen in an Irish shirt in the last number of years.”
England bowlers Adil Rashid and Sam Curran limit Sri Lanka in first T20
The hosts need 130 to win at Cardiff.
Kane Williamson savours New Zealand’s World Test Championship triumph
The Black Caps beat India in the final.
New Zealand edge thrilling battle with India to win World Test Championship
Kane Williamson led the way with an unbeaten 52 and 37-year-old Ross Taylor struck the winning boundary to finish 47 not out.
New Zealand in strong position to win World Test Championship final
The Black Caps need to chase 139 to win.
Kyle Jamieson takes two India wickets as NZ make move in World Test Championship
Play had resumed on the reserve day with India on 64 for two, a slender lead of 32, and all results just about feasible.
Devon Conway and Quinton De Kock join Southern Brave’s line-up for The Hundred
Australian duo David Warner and Marcus Stoinis pulled out of the inaugural tournament citing coronavirus complications.
Michael Holding: If you don’t kneel, I know where you stand
The West Indies cricketing great’s book ‘Why We Kneel, How We Rise’ is published this week.
On this day in 2013: India win Champions Trophy after England collapse in final
The hosts were 110 for four chasing 130 for victory at Edgbaston but lost by five runs.
Samit Patel sets Vitality Blast bowling record in routine Nottinghamshire win
Patel took three for four in the most economical four-over spell in Blast history before Hales smashed 60 off 24 balls.
Ravichandran Ashwin would love to play to a finish in world final
India and New Zealand will battle on for a sixth day in Southampton but a draw still looks likeliest.