Although David Willey finished his last England international game as their highest wicket-taker, and second-highest for them in the tournament overall, he is not happy at the way it has come to an end, after their game against Pakistan in Kolkata as well.
“I mean my time is done because I’ve called time on it, but it’s with deep regret, I think,” said Willey in a press conference. “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.”
However, Willey announced his retirement midway through England’s campaign in the World Cup, and soon after the announcement of England’s central contracts which he wasn’t offered as well. Having played 73 ODIs, and picking up his 100th wicket in his final game, over eight years, Willey confessed to having been toying with the idea even before the campaign.
“Yeah, look I think if I’m being brutally honest now look, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to come to the World Cup even to the 11th hour when we were, the morning that we were joining up at Lord’s, I still wasn’t sure whether I’d make the trip or not. So, from then on it was something that was on my mind. And look, it’s not just that I haven’t been offered a contract,” again shared Willey. “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 [Buttler], Motty [Matthew Mott]- and then it came to the decision that the time was right for me to call it a day and to make sure that I did enjoy my last few games of cricket because it’s special, wearing this shirt is special and I didn’t want to walk away with tainted memories of playing for my country.”
However, David Willey’s numbers in the World Cup (11 wickets, Avg: 23.54) remained amazing in a forgettable campaign for England but the veteran pacer stated that he had to retire with England keen on looking towards others in the future as well.
“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. I think, I believe that I could still be a part of that [2024 T20] World Cup and an injury or two, and they’re going to be calling on someone with very little to no experience in World Cups. So yeah, look 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,” he again shared.
“You only have to look at the global landscape now, ultimately, for us as players cricket is a business. And for me, never knowing, not having a contract with England, not knowing what tournaments I can commit to. I find myself in a position where I’m constantly, I don’t know what I’m doing all year round. Now, that’s not easy for me. It’s not easy for my wife. It’s not easy for my kids. And I had to take control of that at some stage. So, all rolled up over a period of time, looking at that and trying to juggle it and manage it, from playing cricket, enjoying it, making money, making sure I’m spending some time with my family, became difficult,” David Willey concluded. “I don’t think never say never but right now I’m very confident in my decision that today was my last game of cricket for England. Do I want to go to the Caribbean [for the T20 World Cup] and run drinks and not know where I stand and just feel like a third wheel again which is very much what I felt like when I turned up at Lord’s and being the only one without a contract? Probably not, so I’m done.”