Contract snub is final straw for Willey as he quits England
DAVId WILLEY announced his retirement from international cricket after England’s decision not to award him a contract proved the final straw.
Willey, who has played 113 white-ball matches since his England debut in 2015, is available for the final three games of a shambolic World Cup title defence, where he has been one of his team’s few shining lights.
But his decision to break the news before the tournament is over has added to a dysfunctional campaign, with England on the brink of elimination and head coach Matthew Mott under pressure for his job.
Mail Sport understands Willey had been considering his future since he became the only member of England’s 15-man squad not to be offered one of the ECB’s new multi-year deals in mid-September. Worse was the fact that a further 15 England players not in India also earned deals, leaving Willey on the outside at the age of 33.
But he first spoke, in private, about the prospect of stepping away from England around the time of the game against South Africa in Mumbai almost a fortnight ago.
And while the management suggested he had a chance of playing in next year’s T20 World Cup in the Caribbean and the USA, Willey was said by friends to be fed up of ‘constantly needing to prove himself’, having secured only one full central contract during his eight years as an international all-rounder.
His young family was also a factor; uncertainty over his place in the England set-up meant domestic plans were increasingly hard to arrange. And while the timing of the announcement reflects the frustration of a player who feels he has been messed around by England, it is also the act of someone keen to close a chapter of his career on his own terms. His wife, Carolynne, posted a picture on social media of Willey dismissing Indian star Virat Kohli for a duck on Sunday, with the caption: ‘you’ve been short changed love. ECB don’t deserve you.’ Willey will now focus on his native North amptonshire, where he is T20 captain, and on the global franchise circuit. He is set to take part in the lucrative IlT20 tournament in the UAE early next year, and hopes to renew his IPL contract with Royal Challengers Bangalore.
‘I never wanted this day to come,’ he wrote on Instagram. ‘From a young boy, I’ve only ever dreamed of playing cricket for England. So, with careful consideration, it is with great regret that I feel the time has comee for me to retire from rom all forms of international cricket at the end of the World Cup.
‘ I feel I still have a lot more to give on and off the field while I am still playing my best cricket, and nd my decision has nothing to do with our performance mance during the Worldld Cup.’ ’
It’s not the first time that Willey has felt aggrieved. In 2019, he missed out on the World Cup squad at the last minute after the introduction of Jofra Archer, though few could argue that was a mistake. Willey signed off his Instagram statement by insisting he remained available for the rest of the World Cup. ‘I am sure everybody who knows me does not doubt that, whatever my involvement in the remainder of this campaign, I will give everything and more!’ he wrote. ‘That’s the only way I know.’ Former England captain Michael Vaughan said: ‘ The way he’s been treated in this World Cup has been disgraceful. He’s been England’s best player in the last three games. England have given out 29 contracts and he wasn’t worthy of a one-year contract, which I found staggering.’ Eoin Morgan, who earlier in the week set the hare running by suggesting there was something wrong in the England camp, yesterday said Mott should be ‘given time’ to put things right. But he added: ‘If the England team don’t qualify for the Champions Trophy, Rob Key and the board will come under increasing pressure surrounding (Mott’s) job.’
Meanwhile, fast bowler Mark Wood believes Australia will not be worried at the prospect of Saturday’s match. Wood helped turn the Ashes last summer, but played down the suggestion that would have any impact on a game England must win to boost their chances of qualifying for the 2025 Champions Trophy.
‘These are different conditions, players, timing, form,’ he said. ‘We’ve done well against them recently. But I don’t think they’ll be going into the game pooing their pants. It’s up to us to change that.’ Asked whether the Australians would be driven by what they believe was a post-Ashes snub, when England weren’t ready for the end- ofseries beers, Wood said: ‘I don’t know if that’ll be fuel for them. They’ll have enough motivation.’