Billings aim­ing for World T20

Kent cricket

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Sport -

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.”

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