An emotional David Willey has revealed that he felt like a “third wheel” in England’s changing room for being the only player in their World Cup squad not having a central contract. The pacer, who is performing at his best right now and grabbed three wickets against Pakistan on Saturday, added that his retirement decision was final. Having been denied a central contract for the 2023-24 season, ‘player of the match’ Willey announced his retirement after reaching 100 ODI wickets.
“I don’t think never say never but right now I’m very confident my decision that today was my last game of cricket for England,” he told reporters after helping England secure a 93-run win over Pakistan at the Eden Gardens.
Asked if he would be tempted to come back for one last go, Willey said, “Do I want to go to the Caribbean 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.
“My time is done because I’ve called time on it, but it’s with deep regret, I think. 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,” he said after taking 3/56 in his swansong appearance.
“My situation with England has always been, I know I’m on the fringe. I’m next in if there’s an injury, very much a squad player. And I’ve been very much at peace with that, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy to be in that position, never knowing where you stand from tour to tour.
“So, look, to go out there and just be able to enjoy my last game of cricket for England was lovely — the boys have been great. It made it special for me walking out there first. It was a special moment. And they’re memories that I’ll cherish forever.” Willey was sidelined for England’s first three matches and returned to the side in place of Sam Curran, emerging the second-highest wicket-taker with 11 scalps in six matches.
Leg-spinner Adil Rashid was England’s top wicket-taker in the World Cup with 15 scalps from nine matches.
Willey thinks he could still have played for England at the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and USA in June. But the uncertainty of being without a contract had taken a toll on him and his family.
“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.
“I think, I believe that I could still be a part of that 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 (T20) 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 signed off.
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