Daily Mail

Billings: We are playing the Aussies ...it’s hardly a friendly!


ENGLAND embark on their first assignment as double world champions in the small hours of tomorrow, with Sam Billings insisting they are in the mood for the ODI series in Australia. The first of three matches starts in Adelaide less than four days after Jos Buttler’s team clinched the T20 World Cup at the MCG — prompting Moeen Ali to slam the schedule as ‘horrible’.

But Billings, one of six members of England 15-man one-day squad who were not part of the T20 triumph, hardly sounded like a man happy to go easy on the Aussies.

‘It’s England-Australia in Australia,’ he said. ‘It’s not a friendly, is it? We’re great mates with a lot of those Aussie guys but we want to beat them. We’re really looking forward to it.’ Even so, the timing and the relevance of this series — which doesn’t count for the ICC’s Super League, the qualificat­ion tournament for next year’s 50-over World Cup in India — have led to renewed soul-searching about the unsustaina­ble fixture list. ‘The schedule doesn’t allow all-format players,’ said Billings. ‘Ben Stokes (who is in ODI retirement) is the prime example. That should be a wake-up call.’

England will give a breather to some of their T20 world champions, paving the way for opener Jason Roy to return. James Vince is also set for a recall, having made his only internatio­nal hundred in his most recent ODI, against Pakistan at Edgbaston in 2021. England won their last ODI series in Australia 4-1 after the disastrous 2017-18 Ashes, and are now looking to protect their No 1 ranking.

‘This is a great opportunit­y at the back end of a trip to make an impression, but ultimately to perform,’ said Billings. ‘There’s seven or eight of us that have got plenty to play for in this series.’

FIRST ODI: Australia v England, Adelaide, tomorrow 3.20am. LIVE on BT Sport 1. ENGLAND (possible): Roy, Salt, Malan, Vince, Buttler (capt, wkt), Billings, Moeen, Dawson, Willey, L Wood, Stone. lENGLAND’S

first Test series in Pakistan for 17 years could now begin in Karachi because of political unrest in Rawalpindi following the assassinat­ion attempt on former prime minister and Test captain Imran Khan. The Pakistan Cricket Board are due to make a final decision later this week.

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