Willey and Billings star as England beat Ireland in ODI return

Ross Houston
August 1, 2020

Ireland have set England a target of 173 to win the opening game of the three-match ODI series following a disappointing batting innings in Southampton.

England's David Willey said that his "best cricket is probably still to come" after he secured his maiden five-wicket haul on Thursday.

An unfamiliar-looking England, in the first of a three-match series that launches the new World Cup Super League to determine qualification for the 2023 50-over showpiece in India, slumped to 78-4 at the Ageas Bowl.

Joe Denly was a late withdrawal due to a lower back injury, with Kent team-mate Sam Billings filling in, while spin bowling all-rounder Liam Dawson and left-arm seamer Reece Topley were the others to miss out among England's squad.

England's squad still featured eight World Cup winners, including captain Eoin Morgan, Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow, James Vince and Adil Rashid.

Former Ireland batsman Morgan completed a win with more than 22 overs to spare when he hit spinner Simi Singh for six.

Willey was the unfortunate bowler to accommodate Jofra Archer in England's World Cup squad, but the Yorkshire left-armer claimed a maiden five-for at global level on his comeback in front of empty seats at the Ageas Bowl.

Willey took 4-12 as Ireland slumped to 28-5 after losing the toss. Its first global of the year featured debuts for middle-order batsman Harry Tector and bowling allrounder Curtis Campher.

Campher, a South African-born all-rounder who qualifies for Ireland through his mother's passport, showed admirable fortitude on his first worldwide outing, surviving a hat-trick ball before going on to share stands of 51 and 66 with Kevin O'Brien and Andy McBrine.

Willey further stated, "It was just special to be out there playing for England again".

Next ball, the 30-year-old Willey, the son of former England batsman and umpire David Willey, had Lorcan Tucker lbw for a duck to leave Ireland 28-5.

"He has always showed a lot of heart and soul and today, his skill level was exceptional", he added after England's first home ODI since they beat New Zealand in last year's World Cup final at Lord's.

The 21-year-old Campher, a former South Africa youth worldwide qualified for Ireland through his mother, survived the hat-trick delivery and went on to complete an admirable 103-ball fifty.

David Willey opened the bowling for England in his first global appearance since making way in the World Cup squad for Jofra Archer and the left-arm seamer made a breakthrough within four balls.

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