Play­ing over­seas fits the Bill for Sam and Spit­fires

The Cricket Paper - - NEWS & FEATURE - By James Lewis

SAM Billings might have come un­der fire from Kent sup­port­ers for tak­ing part in the IPL but af­ter sign­ing a new deal at the county, the wicket-keeper bats­man is adamant he is a bet­ter player for his over­seas ex­pe­ri­ences.

Now 26, Billings has played in the IPL in each of the last two sea­son for the Delhi Dare­dev­ils, while also head­ing abroad to fea­ture in the Big Bash and the Pak­istan Su­per League.

And hav­ing signed a con­tract ex­ten­sion at Can­ter­bury, Billings be­lieves that Kent have al­ready ben­e­fited from his over­seas stints although his planned spell in the T20 Global League in South Africa next month will not hap­pen af­ter the tour­na­ment was post­poned un­til 2018.

He ex­plained: “Quite a few Kent fans on so­cial me­dia have voiced their opin­ions on my trav­els but my re­sponse to that would be it’s a great op­por­tu­nity and one where there’s only a cer­tain time in your ca­reer that you can take it up, so I would be stupid not to.

“It re­ally does im­prove you as a crick­eter. The ex­am­ple I gave to Matt Walker at our end-of-sea­son re­view was that com­ing from the IPL and com­ing to the crease in a pres­sure sit­u­a­tion where we need 12 an over in front of 25,000 peo­ple at the Oval, to be able to ex­e­cute my skills and get us across the line more or less, that was sim­ply be­cause I’ve had those other op­por­tu­ni­ties around the world and played in sit­u­a­tions like that.

“The only way you learn is by play­ing in high-pres­sure sit­u­a­tions. I think that for me it was a great ex­am­ple and it’s great an ex­pe­ri­ence like that can help you im­prove and put per­for­mances in for Kent as well.

“That’s the main thing, it’s about putting per­for­mances in for Kent and hope­fully Eng­land fur­ther down the line.”

Billings isn’t the only Kent player who has tried his hand over­seas, with Joe Denly head­ing off to the Bangladesh Premier League to play for Dhaka Dy­na­mites.

And af­ter a sea­son where Kent un­der­per­formed in all three for­mats, Billings ex­pects the side to bounce back in 2018.

He added: “It will only progress you. You look at Joe Denly go­ing to the BPL af­ter the sea­son he has had. It’s wellde­served and that will only im­prove him.

“Who knows? If he has an­other bumper sea­son, he could get back into in­ter­na­tional cricket be­cause he’s showed how good a player he is.

“We’ve got guys like Joe who are eas­ily ca­pa­ble of play­ing in­ter­na­tional cricket again and that’s a promis­ing sign. So, it’s about mak­ing sure we can play con­sis­tently and to­gether.

“It’s hurt even more that we haven’t got the re­sults we should get. So, we need to work even harder, we need to work at the things that haven’t been good enough this year, as a squad and as in­di­vid­u­als as well. We all need to muck in to­gether.

“A lot of the time, you can have a bad sea­son and then an in­cred­i­ble one the next year. It’s peaks and troughs, that’s the name of the game. As long as we learn from this sea­son, that’s the most im­por­tant thing.”

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Play it again, Sam: Kent’s Sam Billings has spent time in In­dia play­ing for Delhi Dare­dev­ils

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