In the face of increasingly stiff competition among the fast bowlers, Eoin Morgan, the England captain, acknowledged that making the final selection for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 would be a difficult task.
England have 17 members in their squad for the ongoing ODI series against Pakistan, of which only 15 will make the cut for the World Cup. And Jofra Archer, who is almost definitely a shoo-in for the event, wasn’t named in the original CWC squad, which leaves England with some tough calls to make.
“Unfortunately, a couple of guys from this 17 will miss out, and it’s going to be a tough decision, regardless of how they perform in the rest of this series because of what they’ve contributed over a long period of time,” Morgan said.
England were without Archer, who was rested for the second ODI in Southampton on Saturday, 11 May. It paved the way for David Willey’s inclusion, and the left-arm pacer turned in a top-notch performance, returning 2/57 in 10 overs. In a match where 734 runs were scored, Willey ended up being one of only two bowlers from either side to go at under six an over – the other, Haris Sohail, bowled only three overs.
Willey also excelled at the death, and was instrumental in applying the choke on Pakistan. He gave away just 17 runs in a three-over spell, between overs 44 and 48, and picked up two wickets in that time. Pakistan ended up losing by 12 runs.
“I thought he bowled beautifully, even when he came back in the middle,” Morgan said of Willey. “He normally bowls a couple more up front, when it swings a bit more, but today it didn’t actually swing that much, maybe for six or seven balls. I thought all of the bowlers, including Dave, who were put under the pump when we couldn’t take wickets throughout that whole 30-over period, were brilliant. They reacted really well.”
Willey will now essentially be competing for World Cup spots with Archer, Liam Plunkett, Chris Woakes, Chris Jordan and Tom Curran. Willey, Plunkett and Woakes are the more experienced of the lot, while Jordan and Curran are yet to play a game in the series.
“They’re all pushing each other,” Morgan said. “It’s a bit like our batting unit the last two or three years. Guys who come in and do well have missed out.
“For the last four years, David Willey and Liam Plunkett, in particular, have reacted really well to being put under pressure. You ask them to do more and they respond really well. They probably don’t get the praise that they should or that other guys get. But the more responsibility we’ve given them, they’ve reacted really well.”