David Willey recalled feeling dejected after his last-minute ouster from England's ODI squad ahead of the 2019 World Cup at home.
The left-arm pacer was among England's most successful new-ball bowler in the previous cycle. Yet, he couldn't make it to the quadrennial event, with the selectors instead preferring the more robust option in Jofra Archer, who ultimately proved crucial to Eoin Morgan & co lifting the prestigious trophy.
For Willey, however, it was the lowest point of his career, as he was ignored even after the tournament for tours to New Zealand and South Africa last winter and featured in the Abu Dhabi T10 league where he wasn't feeling excited about playing cricket anymore.
"I just didn't want to be there. I didn't want to go to the ground. When I was at the ground, I didn't want to be there, and I wanted to get back to the hotel. I'd fallen out of love with the game, I think," Willey was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
On Thursday (July 30), Willey made a terrific comeback against Ireland in England's first match of the ICC ODI Super League in Southampton, taking a five-fer (5/30) in his team's six-wicket win.
"It was just special to be out there playing for England again," he said. "I've gone away and worked quite hard to get back near my best. It's been a rollercoaster, but I was just out there enjoying my cricket today. I'm moving in the right direction and I feel like my best cricket is still to come."
"Circumstances have given me this opportunity. I didn't get a look in over the winter, I missed out there. The extended break has been really good for me. The timing for all of this has worked out perfectly for me and it was the icing on the cake."
Facing the Irishmen, Willey swung the ball, but also showed excellent use of the conventional, over the wicket angle across the right-hand batsmen, making them reach out for the ball and bringing the catching fielders in play.
"My success has come when I've pitched the ball up previously and really that was what I tried to do today. I kept the ball full which kept me in the game and I reaped the rewards of that," he said.
Willey may be sidelined again when England's first-choice attack is back on the park, but the pacer wishes to keep himself relevant through performances and hopes to make constant improvement.
"It's an unbelievable squad. You look at the players that still aren't getting a look-in and the guys that went home from this camp: there are some brilliant cricketers sat on the sidelines that are still trying to find a way in," he acknowledged.
The second ODI of the three-match series will be played on Saturday (August 1).