PSL 2022: David Willey terms Pakistan 'a great place for cricket'

PSL 7: England's Willey hopes for more exciting cricket for Pakistan fans at home in years to come

February 01, 2022
David Willey.  — PCB

Karachi: Terming Pakistan a ''great place for Cricket'', England's white-ball cricketer David Willey has hoped for more exciting cricket for Pakistan fans at home in years to come.

In an exclusive interview to Geo News, the 31-year-old said that earlier he was a bit nervous before arriving in Pakistan but his experience in the country has been fantastic.

“I was a little bit nervous before I came. But everything is as we were told it would be. The security has been fantastic. We've been looked after exceptionally well. And the cricket is brilliant,” he said.

“There's no question about the passion and love for cricket in this part of the world. It's a great place to come and play cricket and it's brilliant. So, let's hope it stays that way and cricket can go on and there can be more great matches,” the England cricketer said.

The bowling all-rounder said that when visiting any country, cricketers are bound to obey the advice of the cricket board and relevant authorities.

He, however, revealed that Rasheed and Ali have also spoken high about Pakistan.

“We've got Moeen Ali and Rasheed who played for England and spoke very highly of Pakistan. So, I sort of had a good idea what I was coming to,” he said.

“It's unfortunate that we are stuck in a hotel with the COVID-19 bubble. But it's a great place. The passion for cricket is exceptional and we've been looked after really well and overall it's been a great experience so far,” Willey said.

The Northampton born cricketer has been part of IPL, BPL, BBL and other T20 competitions around the world and making his maiden PSL appearance this season donning in Multan Sultans colors.

And, he was impressed with the standard of cricket at display during PSL.

“I've not been out here before, but I've watched it on television previously and the standard is exceptionally high. I think that the most noticeable thing is the battery of the fast bowlers that you have here. It's exceptional. I think the number of teams is perfect to keep that standard and competition really high. And you only have to look at the benches of some of the teams to see the quality that's still left to come in,” he said.

He also appreciated PSL franchise Multan Sultans saying that the environment is very caring and he is lucky to be part of this team where everyone is playing for each other.

He also praised his team mate Shahnawaz Dahani for the energy he brings in the dressing room.

“He is very jolly and is a brilliant character, full of energy. The energy that he brings to the group is second to none. He is a great person to have in your team, not only from a cricket perspective but from a personality point of view as well,” he said.

Replying to a question, Willey said that he’d like to think of himself as a team player and will always put the team's needs first.

“My personal goals are to be part of a title trophy-winning side. And if I can contribute, in whatever way I need to, if my contributions can lead to success, that’s more important for me,” he said.

David, who is the son of former England Cricketer Peter Willey, added that in age-group cricket, people used to say that he was there because of his father and there was added pressure on him because of all such things.

But, with time, all such pressure has gone.

“As I grew up, coming through the age-group cricket, there was a lot of scrutiny from other people that I was only in the side because of who my dad was. And that is challenging, particularly when you're a young boy," he said.

Willey also said: "[When] I started playing professional cricket, my father wanted me to have my own career and not be in the shadow of his. So, I think with time that that is as sort of gone.

“But at the same time, I had the best advice and best sounding board — that is to be able to talk to my dad and listen to him about the game. So, in some ways, it was difficult. And in contrast, it was a blessing as well."

Willey was in England’s white-ball squad for years in lead up to the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England but he was later dropped from the team to make way for Jofra Archer in the squad.

The cricketer said that it was disappointing for him to miss out the World Cup at home as he grew up with the dream of playing the highest tournament of the game.

“I was part of that one-day squad for four years leading up to that World Cup, and I was the one to miss out at the last minute for Jofra to come in. So, I think that could have gone two ways I could have been very bitter about it. But I've been a part of that group and I was absolutely elated for them to go on and win the World Cup,” he said.

“Obviously, I was disappointed. But at the same time, I think the amount of pressure for sort of 12 months leading up to that. There's been a lot of talk that somebody was going to miss out Jofra and I knew it might have been me as I wasn't playing my best cricket," he expressed.

Willey said that he actually got to a stage that he'd put in so much pressure on himself that he wasn't enjoying playing cricket. "I wasn't performing on the field, I couldn't say it wasn't fair or whatever like that but actually I wasn't playing very well so I didn't deserve a place in that squad," he said.

“As much as it was disappointing, it was a relief that you know the decision had been made and it was done. I was delighted for the boys that played and were a part of that World Cup squad, and disappointed because I dreamt about playing in a World Cup on my home soil," he recalled.

Willey has played 52 ODIs and 32 T20Is for England and last donned in England’s shirt in July 2021. He was also part of England’s T20 World Cup squad but didn’t play any game there.

When asked about his future plans, the Yorkshire player said that he is not putting himself under pressure of having any expectations.

“I would love to continue playing for England. I would love to win a World Cup. I would love to play franchise cricket and win trophies. And I feel the best way for me to do that is to continue enjoying my cricket. I don't have that pressure on myself to be part of squads. I just want to enjoy playing cricket and I think my performances were will reflect my enjoyment,” he concluded.

Faizan Lakhani is Deputy Editor (Sports) at Geo News.