David Willey’s selection in England’s squad for the T20 World Cup, which starts for them in Dubai tomorrow, may have brought some redemption following his last-minute omission from the one-day World Cup on home soil in 2019. But the Yorkshire Blast captain will not be happy just making up the numbers.
“I’m not here just to have a nice time, I want us to go on and win the World Cup,” said the Vikings all-rounder.
“So I don’t think it massively changes my outlook on the competition – the disappointment from the previous 50-over World Cup – I just want to turn up and play and hopefully contribute to some success.”
Much has been said previously by Willey about being left out of the squad in 2019, and he touched on it again during his pre-tournament press conference on Thursday morning.
“To be a part of it for four years and miss out was obviously disappointing,” he said.
“But I think the personal growth from there on and refocusing back on just enjoying my cricket has been massive for me. It’s probably why I am sat here today back playing for England.
“I think it has definitely made me a better person.
“I’m very lucky to have my wife (Carolynne) there as well as the kids (Jacob and Maeve). It gave me a bit of perspective and the support I needed away from cricket at that time.
“Whether you have been involved in one or not before, it is extra special to be part of a World Cup. So I’m happy to be back involved.”
Of course, Willey, 31-years-old, has been involved in a World Cup before. In 2016, he was part of the England team which lost in the World T20 final against tomorrow’s opponents West Indies in Kolkata.
It was a game made famous for Carlos Brathwaite hitting Ben Stokes for four sixes in the final over as West Indies chased 156 to win.
What was lost is that Willey claimed 3-20 from his four overs, the best bowling analysis on either side.
In fact, he has got a pretty impressive record against the Calypso side, claiming 10 wickets in five T20s against them.
He also has an excellent record against left-handers, with Cricinfo reporting that since that last World T20 Willey has a better economy rate (7.25 to 8.09) and strike rate (15.9 to 22.1) against left-handers than right in all T20 matches.
The West Indies’ top order promises to be stacked with lefties when the teams meet in Dubai (3pm UK).
“The ball swinging away from left-handers in all formats can be dangerous,” he said. “When they’re looking to be aggressive against the white ball, hopefully that goes in my favour.
“I’ve been told I’ve got a good record against left-handers, although sometimes find it hard to bowl to them!
“Hopefully that might swing it my favour to get the nod in the first game.”
Willey, who says he has been working on a new slower ball. played in Monday’s warm-up defeat to India, taking 1-16 from his three overs. He dismissed Suryakumar Yadav.
Something that all teams will have to contend with over the next month or so is the temperature in the Emirates, which is around 35 or 36 degrees celcius in the day time and late twenties at night.
Dew as well as players sweating heavily is going to be a significant factor at the tournament which sees England also Australia, South Africa and two qualifiers in the group stage.
But England have been working hard in training to mitigate against such factors.
“In the early overs, the humidity can help the ball swing,” said Willey.
“And it’s not until you start running around a bit more that you get that sweat on.
“In the first warm-up game, it didn’t affect me in the first couple of overs I bowled. But, as the game goes on, the sweat and moisture builds up.
“It is never going to be perfect, but there are things we can put into place – even if it is just dunking balls in buckets at training and catching, fielding, bowling with wet balls.”
Willey has played 203 times for all teams across his T20 career and is four wickets away from the 200-mark. He is a big game player having won titles at home and abroad.
“I think that’s why a lot of these guys in the England squad play the game, to play in these big games,” he said. “I’m no different. That’s where we want to be playing our best cricket.
“I’d certainly like to think I thrive in those positions.”
Another of those is captain Eoin Morgan, who has averaged only 11.71 in seven T20 internationals this year as well as averaging 11.08 in the recent Indian Premier League competition.
Morgan said earlier this week that he would be open to dropping himself should his struggles continue.
But Willey added: “Morgs is one of those guys who turns up when it counts.
“So don’t be surprised if he has an absolute blinder of a tournament and comes out as top run-scorer. He’s one of them players – he’s a match winner with the bat. But his captaincy alone is phenomenal.”