safari staff
13 Sep 2023 | 05:17 AM

David Willey happy to be the "donkey" of England's bowling attack

Jofra Archer's presence in the training session resurfaced the memories of the 2019 World Cup axe for the left-arm seamer

Jofra Archer was seen practicing with the England ODI squad at the Kia Oval, and his presence would have resurfaced the memories of the 2019 World Cup axe for David Willey. The left-arm seamer was dropped from the England set-up just prior to the 2019 showpiece event to accommodate Archer, and Willey is hoping something similar doesn’t happen this time around as well.

Archer is still recovering from an elbow injury and is unlikely to feature in England's finalised World Cup squad, but is expected to travel as one of the reserves. Meanwhile, Willey has done everything he can to demand a spot in the World Cup squad. The 33-year-old has claimed 36 wickets in 20 ODIs at an average of 25.5 since the last World Cup and is England’s second-highest wicket-taker after Adil Rashid. What’s more, he is also averaging 41 with the bat in this period.

"He (Archer) looks in a good place. I don't know where he is at, fitness-wise, but he was bowling with good wheels out there today. Everyone knows how good he is, what he's capable of and how he can impact games. So to have him close, or not far away from being fit, is fantastic news."

Talking about the axe, Willey said: "It probably would have been nice to receive a phone call from a couple of guys who were involved with the decision making. But it’s never going to be easy. I’m not saying I should have been there. I wasn’t playing particularly well at the time, so I’m under no illusion about why I missed out. But it doesn’t make it any easier and being a part of that for four years building up towards it… it was tough to miss out at the 11th hour."

The left-armer said he is happy to be the "donkey" of the England's bowling line-up. "Me staying fit, touch wood, is probably an asset to the group, with guys who sometimes struggle with niggles and things. Call me a donkey if you want, but to take a donkey out to what could be a tough trip, you just might need a donkey. They keep going, donkeys, don't they? We've got pretty well everything covered - and you've got the donkey as well."

The numbers are there to be seen, but Willey is not taking his spot for granted. He has picked up four wickets in the first two ODIs against New Zealand and also scored 28 runs without getting out. "Until you're on that flight out there you can't rest on your laurels," he said. 

Asked about the possibility of being dropped once again at the last minute, he said: "Hopefully not. Goodness me, that would be a tough one to take… (but) it is professional sport, and things do change. I made a promise to myself that I'd play every game for England as if it was my last and I try and do that now. Things change and, if it changes for me, then it's nothing I haven't been through before."

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