Cricket World Cup: England admit it was tough to axe David Willey for Jofra Archer
Yorkshire rally behind their player after selector Ed Smith made the difficult call
England national selector Ed Smith admits he feels bad for David Willey after the Yorkshireman was omitted from the 15-man squad for the Cricket World Cup.
Willey was axed to make way for Jofra Archer, who qualified for England in March having served out his residency period after arriving from the West Indies.
Since then Archer has impressed with his pace bowling and his reward is a place in the squad for the tournament which starts on 30 May when England take on South Africa at The Oval.
For Willey, however, there is nothing but desolation as he received the news of his axing.
“David Willey has been a very big part of the one-day side that has had such a good run and it was a really tough call but someone had to miss out,” Smith told Sky Sports News.
“It was a very difficult decision. I think the situation we were in as a selection panel and in conversation with the captain we had more players we wanted to pick then we were allowed to.
“David could easily have been in this World Cup squad, he deserves to be but that’s sport sometimes there are more deserving players than there are places in the squad.”
Dignity in distress
Asked if he had spoken to Willey, Smith replied that he had, adding: “He is an outstanding man, very honest, dignified and clear in the conversation we had. He is a very impressive man and cricketer and he is extremely unfortunate to miss out.”
Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket, said he felt Willey’s pain on learning of his omission.
“A World Cup at home doesn’t come along very often, so it’s a huge blow for him, and we feel for him, because we know how much it means,” said Moxon.
“Clearly it was a difficult decision for the selectors. Whoever missed out, it was going to be incredibly tough on. With Dave being our player, we’re all gutted for him. It’s a huge disappointment.”
Willey, who has appeared in 46 one-day internationals, could be drafted into the squad as an injury replacement but in the meantime he will return to his county.
“He’s a fantastic all-round cricketer, and perhaps now he will get some regular cricket and be ready if and when called upon,” said Moxon. “He’s still relatively young, so it’s not the end of the world for him by any stretch.”
Nonetheless it will have been a bitter blow for the 29-year-old Willey, who, since making his debut in 2015, has taken 52 wickets and scored 279 runs at an average of 18.
Former England captain turned Sky Sports cricket pundit Nasser Hussein said selecting Archer was “the right call”, but there should have been a place found for Willey.
“For me, I would’ve liked to have that left-arm option of Willey,” said Hussain. “With 10.30am starts in this World Cup, if you get a grey day, with it swinging around, he is the only one in world cricket really that swings that new ball.”
Hussain said it must have been an awkward call for Smith to make to inform Willey that after four years of impeccable service he had been “replaced by someone who has bowled 22 overs for England”.
One can imagine how the volatile Hussain might have reacted had he been in Willey’s shoes, and the ex-England batsman said: “If I was a journalist, right now I would be knocking on Willey’s door, because I reckon he’d be wanting to say things that aren’t quite what should be said. He will be absolutely ticking.”
But so far Willey has taken it on the chin, tweeting: “What can I say, I’m absolutely gutted. Still 100% behind the lads.”
Squad and fixtures
England’s 15-man squad for the Cricket World Cup
- Eoin Morgan (Middlesex, captain)
- Moeen Ali (Worcestershire)
- Jofra Archer (Sussex)
- Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire)
- Jos Buttler (Lancashire, wicketkeeper)
- Tom Curran (Surrey)
- Liam Dawson (Hampshire)
- Liam Plunkett (Surrey)
- Adil Rashid (Yorkshire)
- Joe Root (Yorkshire)
- Jason Roy (Surrey)
- Ben Stokes (Durham)
- James Vince (Hampshire)
- Chris Woakes (Warwickshire)
- Mark Wood (Durham)
England’s Cricket World Cup fixtures
- 30 May: vs. South Africa (Oval, 10.30am)
- 3 June: vs. Pakistan (Trent Bridge, 10.30am)
- 8 June: vs. Bangladesh (Sophia Gardens, 10.30am)
- 14 June: vs. West Indies (Ageas Bowl, 10.30am)
- 18 June: vs. Afghanistan (Old Trafford, 10.30am)
- 21 June: vs. Sri Lanka (Headingley, 10.30am)
- 25 June: vs. Australia (Lord’s, 10.30am)
- 30 June: vs. India (Edgbaston, 10.30am)
- 3 July: vs. New Zealand (Riverside, 10.30am)