DAVID WILLEY celebrated his England return with a maiden one-day international five-wicket haul as the world champions drew first blood in the three-match series against Ireland at the Ageas Bowl.
Willey was jettisoned for Jofra Archer in England’s World Cup squad last year, but with several regulars absent due to their Test commitments the Yorkshire left-armer took centre stage on his international comeback.
In England’s first home ODI since winning last year’s World Cup, Willey’s five for 30 restricted Ireland to 172 all out in 44.4 overs, which they overhauled with six wickets to spare.
England had lurched to 78 for four but Sam Billings, included after Joe Denly’s withdrawal due to injury, settled any nerves with a supreme 67 not out off 54 balls, in an unbroken 96-run stand with Eoin Morgan.
Willey said: ‘I wasn’t sure if my opportunity would come again. I absolutely loved getting out there and wearing the Three Lions again and it was a bonus that I did well. However many games I play, I’m going to make sure I enjoy them.’
Captain Morgan said: ‘David Willey was outstanding today. It’s a fantastic story and comeback. I am delighted to have him back and firing.’