Amid the chaos of England’s first-choice ODI squad entering self-isolation on Tuesday morning, a handful of county stalwarts received news that they thought would never come. Danny Briggs was recalled after seven-and-a-half years since his last international appearance; John Simpson was given a first call-up as the back-up wicketkeeper at the age of 32; and David Payne struggled to hide his emotion after being named in an England squad for the first time.
“This has been the dream for a long time,” Payne told Gloucestershire’s in-house channels at Cheltenham before leaving their County Championship game against Middlesex to link up with the new squad in Cardiff. “I’m not sure words can describe how I’m feeling – I’m ecstatic, and I can’t stop smiling. It’s everything everyone plays for, so to finally get that call is everything I ever wanted.”
While a handful of players and support staff were reached last night, Payne was among those who only found out on Wednesday morning. “I had a missed call and a message on WhatsApp,” he explained. “I was down at breakfast and left my phone in the hotel room, so I came back and saw that.
“The message said, ‘it’s Chris Silverwood, can you give me a call?’ Instantly, my heart was kind of racing and excited, thinking, ‘what’s this going to be?’ I tried to stay cool [and] thought I’d do my teeth and get ready to go to the ground and then give him a call. In the car he was ringing me again so I took the call again and he said can I join him down in Cardiff?
“My initial reaction was a bit confused and I was thinking, ‘I’m in the middle of the game – what does this mean?’ [But] with replacements being allowed, it means that Dom [Goodman] could come in for me today so I could concentrate on going down and joining them.
“I had absolutely no idea [about the outbreak]. Chris asked if I’d heard anything and honestly, I was completely oblivious to what was going on. [I’m] just thankful for the opportunity.”
Payne is the only left-arm seamer in the squad, with Sam Curran, George Garton and David Willey all self-isolating and Reece Topley injured. While he is not guaranteed to start the series – several more regular squad members have been named in the group – the call-up is a reward for his consistency in both white-ball formats over a number of years: he has taken 110 wickets at 24.96 in his List A career, and 125 at 22.67 in T20.
Payne was a regular for England at Under-19 level between 2009 and 2010 but has never been called up by the England Lions, and is one of four players in the new-look ODI squad – along with Jake Ball, Briggs and Simpson – who missed out on the 55-man training squad named at the start of the 2020 summer.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “Probably the last thing I expected to happen this morning. I spent last night watching Jimmy Anderson’s spell with the red ball [for Lancashire against Kent] and was really excited turning up today to put a red ball in my hand and be out there for Glos.
“To get the call from Chris Silverwood was the last thing I thought would happen this morning, but just the most amazing news for me. [I’m] completely ecstatic and can’t wait to get down there.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.