England seamer David Willey to retire from internationals after Cricket World Cup

The 33-year-old said he ‘never wanted this day to come’

Rory Dollard
Wednesday 01 November 2023 16:11 GMT
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<p>David Willey missed out on a central contract for England </p>

David Willey missed out on a central contract for England

England seamer David Willey will retire from international cricket at the end of the Cricket World Cup, unhappy after missing out on a central contract.

The 33-year-old was the only member of the touring party in India not to receive a new deal last week and “wasn’t best pleased”, in the words of Rob Key, managing director of England men’s cricket.

A total of 26 players were handed new terms, with three more on pace development deals, leaving Willey in the strange position of pondering his immediate future while simultaneously trying to turn around England’s tanking campaign.

The left-armer has held up his side of the bargain, taking five wickets in three games and delivering the best economy rate of the six fast bowlers England have used at the tournament.

Willey channelled his growing frustrations in the perfect way in Lucknow at the weekend, taking a fine haul of three for 45 including star batter Virat Kohli for a nine-ball duck, but has now resolved to walk away.

Despite five defeats in six games of their World Cup defence, England’s players have lined up one after the other to praise the unity and morale in the squad.

But, in revealing his decision with three group games still to go, starting with rivals Australia in Ahmedabad on Saturday, Willey’s timing frames his personal frustrations.

Revealing the news in an emotive Instagram post, Willey wrote: “I never wanted this day to come. From a young boy, I’ve only ever dreamed of playing cricket for England.

“So, with careful thought and consideration, it is with great regret that I feel the time has come for me to retire from all forms of international cricket at the end of the World Cup.

“I have worn the shirt with immense pride and given my absolute everything to the badge on my chest. I’ve been very lucky to be a part of such an incredible white-ball team with some of the best players in the world. I’ve made some special memories and great friends along the way and been through some very difficult times.”

Willey has played 70 ODIs and 43 T20s and England must now decide whether to continue picking him for their remaining games against Australia, the Netherlands and Pakistan or use the moment to move on.

Willey celebrates taking the wicket of Virat Kohli of India at the World Cup

Sam Curran stands by as the most obvious replacement, as a left-arm swing bowler and attacking lower-order batter, while Surrey’s Gus Atkinson has played just once so far.

Both options are 25 and would represent an investment in the future, but England must also balance the need for an instant change in fortunes with a place at the 2025 Champions Trophy on the line.

“I feel I still have a lot more to give on and off the field while I am still playing my best cricket, and my decision has nothing to do with our performance during the World Cup,” he continued.

“I’m sure everybody who knows me does not doubt that, whatever my involvement in the remainder of this campaign, I will give my everything and more! That’s the only way I know.”

Announcing the new batch of central contracts in Bangalore last week, Key admitted an annoyed Willey had been unlucky to miss out.

“It’s fair to say David Willey wasn’t best pleased, as you can understand, being the only one not to get a contract,” he said.

“It’s bloody tough, to be honest. We’d love to live in a world where you can just say we have a pot of extra cash and you can just give him one because he’s coming out here for the World Cup.”

Willey missed out on England’s 2019 World Cup triumph in devastating fashion, named in the initial 15-man squad only to be axed at the last minute to make way for the newly available Jofra Archer.

That could have been the end of his international career but he fought his way back into contention and found a way back in when England needed two separate squads following the coronavirus pandemic.

He went on to be part of the T20 World Cup-winning squad in Australia last year.

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