I built in­nings in half-hour blocks and made 210

The Cricket Paper - - FEATURE - joe billings Sus­sex 2nd XI bats­man

Joe Billings marked him­self out as a star of the fu­ture when he hit a record 210 for Sus­sex U16s back in 2015. Nearly two years later, the 18-year-old is start­ing his sec­ond sea­son in the Sus­sex acad­emy and has re­cently re­turned from a win­ter tour to South Africa.

And Billings is con­fi­dent the ex­pe­ri­ence of cricket in a dif­fer­ent coun­try will help him as he de­vel­ops that game plan which saw him bat 90 overs against Sur­rey U16s in the sum­mer of 2015.

“I al­ways set out to bat in blocks, in half-hour blocks. I kept get­ting through them and you get to lunch and you’re 40 not out and you carry on,” he said.

“It was one of those days where it all fell into place, we stuck to the game­plans all day and that’s what hap­pens, if you stick to them you’re likely to be suc­cess­ful.

“Cape Town was a re­ally good ex­pe­ri­ence, we played a lot of tough op­po­si­tion on some chal­leng­ing wick­ets against some very good play­ers. It’s good to get ex­pe­ri­ence of the way they play the game.

“It’s all about learn­ing and de­vel­op­ing your game against dif­fer­ent bowlers and dif­fer­ent con­di­tions and that’s what it gave us the op­por­tu­nity to do.

“You do no­tice how you start to adapt your game plans, in par­tic­u­lar in longer for­mat cricket, and you can de­velop your game plans to be suc­cess­ful.”

Billings is en­ter­ing his sec­ond sea­son in the Sus­sex acad­emy, he made his sec­ond team de­but in 2015 and made fur­ther ap­pear­ances last year but is look­ing to so­lid­ify his place in the side this sum­mer.

“I made my sec­ond-team de­but against Kent and you do no­tice the step up as they had six or seven pro­fes­sion­als play­ing, Adam Ball took a lot of wick­ets and Ben Harmi­son played, too,” he ex­plained.

“If you can make your way in that level of cricket there’s an­other big step up but you have to try to make your way up slowly.”

With plenty of steps on the lad­der to first-class cricket still to be com­plete, Billings is im­pressed with the set-up at Sus­sex which has en­cour­aged him to mix with the likes of Luke Wright, Chris Jor­dan and Ed Joyce, to pick their brains and learn from their ex­pe­ri­ence when he is in Hove.

“The set-up down there is ex­cel­lent through­out the win­ter and I have lots of con­tact with a lot of coaches,” he added.

“Through­out the sum­mer we are en­cour­aged to get in and around the pro­fes­sion­als and sec­ond team as much as we can and gain ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We are en­cour­aged to try and get into that en­vi­ron­ment, all the staff are very en­cour­ag­ing to the young play­ers around the group.

“It’s a good ex­pe­ri­ence to know what it’s about be­fore­hand, you know about sec­ond team cricket and un­til you have the ex­pe­ri­ence, you know where you need to be and how to hone your game.”

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