Billings aiming for World T20
Sam Billings hopes a good showing in the Pakistan Super League can seal his place in England’s ICC World T20 squad in March, writes Alex Hoad.
The 24-year-old Kent wicketkeeper batsman continued his fine form in white-ball cricket this week but couldn’t help England Lions avoid a 3-2 series defeat to Pakistan A in a series which they led 2-0 at the ICC Academy in Dubai.
Billings came in at 39-3 and it was 52-4 when Kent team-mate Daniel Bell-Drummond departed for 25, although Billings finished with 89 of Lions’ 216 but Pakistan sealed victory with three wickets and 13 balls to spare.
Billings said his stint in the UAE has “been invaluable” to his development, adding: “Learning your trade in conditions like these, playing against good opposition and working with quality coaches.
“That can only be good for all of us who are lucky enough to be selected.
“I had the T20s with England before Christmas and it was good to get a go and find that my game at international level does work.
“With the Lions I’ve batted higher up the order. Hopefully, I’ve already shown people that I can come in for the last 15 overs and accelerate the run rate. Up at the top of the order you’ve got to be able to play a different role.”
Lions coach Andy Flower and ECB batting coach Graham Thorpe opted to bat Billings at four in the T20 series, where he stayed until dropping to five in the 50-over decider.
Billings said: “It’s something that Thorpey and Andy have been talking to me about – building an innings, not having it all your own way and having to fight for your runs.
“It’s earning the right and realising that not every time you’re going to have a strike rate of 140 or 160.”
Billings admitted he was “hugely disappointed not to get to three figures” in the series finale, adding: “It’s frustrating because I haven’t quite got going at the back end of an innings in this series.”
Billings will remain in Dubai for the next few weeks after being signed by Islamabad United for the inaugural Pakistan Super League T20 competition.
He admitted: “I can’t wait, it’s my first taste of franchise cricket and we’ve got a star-studded lineup – people like Brad Haddin, Shane Watson and Andre Russell.
“I might be running a few drinks on.”
Billings is set to fly out for England’s two-T20 series in South Africa at the end of February and said: “Hopefully, I can keep my form going and keep putting my name in the picture.
“A good PSL shows what you can offer hopefully for the World T20.”