The Ashes: England’s Sam Billings says he is ‘100 per cent’ ready to make unexpected Test debut | Cricket News

“I played and scored points. I’m 100% ready if necessary”; wicketkeeper Sam Billings is set to make his Test debut if selected in Hobart after a few “whirlwind” days that saw him called into the squad just 90 minutes before boarding the return flight

Last updated: 01/10/22 12:25


Sam Billings may be in line to make his Test debut in the fifth Ashes Test

Sam Billings is set for an unexpected test debut in the Ashes finale next week after a “whirlwind” call that saw him swap a flight back to England for a 500-mile journey.

Billings was in Australia for a starring role with Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League, but was less than two hours from hopping on a plane to return home when he was asked to join the test team.

With wicketkeeper Jos Buttler barred from next week’s end-of-series clash in Hobart due to a fractured finger and Jonny Bairstow with a thumb injury, Billings looks ready to pick up his gloves and go straight from the Twenty20 circuit to the testing arena. .

With flights deemed too risky given the current spate of Covid-19 Down Under, he first had to complete a 12-hour journey from the Gold Coast, followed by a rigorous quarantine and testing process at the UK base in Sydney.

This meant he was following the nail-biting conclusion of the fourth England test draw on the hotel television, knowing he could soon join the fray.

Jos Buttler will miss fifth and final Ashes Test in Hobart due to finger injury, England captain Joe Root confirmed

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Jos Buttler will miss fifth and final Ashes Test in Hobart due to finger injury, England captain Joe Root confirmed

Jos Buttler will miss fifth and final Ashes Test in Hobart due to finger injury, England captain Joe Root confirmed

“It was a bit of a roller coaster. I probably needed 90 minutes to two hours to get on that plane back to the UK. It all happened pretty quickly,” he said.

“I went to the airport, got the rental car and drove on, pretty much. It was a bit of a whirlwind. For the first 24 hours I didn’t hear anything and didn’t see anyone, I’m sure I’ll find out more. ahead this week if i’m playing.

“I can’t wait to do that. Like any team I go to, I will try to make a positive impact on and off the pitch and add something to whatever environment I’m in. We’ll have to wait and see if that Test cap arrives.”

Ollie Pope’s solid performance as a substitute goalkeeper at the SCG – he took four catches after being pushed into the role at short notice – means Billings isn’t guaranteed a game on Thursday, but if he gets approval, the Kent player won’t. will be discouraged.

Billings hit 67 of 35 balls against the Perth Scorchers in a successful spell with Sydney Thunder

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Billings hit 67 of 35 balls against the Perth Scorchers in a successful spell with Sydney Thunder

Billings hit 67 of 35 balls against the Perth Scorchers in a successful spell with Sydney Thunder

He has played cricket in shorter form in recent years, managing only four outings for Kent in last year’s LV = Insurance County Championship – but at the age of 30 he has more than a decade of first-class experience to his credit. shoulders.

Add 58 limited-over internationals and his recent Australian field work in the BBL and he feels able to make it through the five-day match smoothly.

“Regardless of the format, regardless of the circumstances, with experience and maturity you can get a sense of where your game is,” he said.

“I’ve played and scored points. I’m 100% ready if needed. No matter what the format, it’s more about pace, confidence and mentality. As a player you look at where your opportunities might lie to advance your career … for me he has always been with the white ball team so far.

“But that was on the radar, it’s something I really wanted to do.”

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Despite this, Billings had to reflect on his position when he was invited to join as an injury cover.

He was already on the Twenty20 squad that will play a three-game streak against the West Indies later this month and, with Covid travel restrictions, he was anxious not to sacrifice that opportunity for a 12th-man role in Tasmania.

“I spent a few moments alone in my hotel room and evaluated everything, of course. I had too many drinks,” he said.

“I just need to play cricket. I had no intention of compromising this opportunity in the West Indies, but of course I will always help and offer everything I can to the English team.

“I think I was certain that I would also arrive in the West Indies, regardless of whether I had the opportunity or not.”

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