Published: 00:00, 02 June 2016
Sam Billings says he is back from the IPL as a better player and is keen to add to Kent’s winning formula.
Billings, who turns 25 on June 15, admitted he had enjoyed a whirlwind few months after playing for England Lions and in the Pakistan Super League in Dubai, being part of England’s T20 tour of South Africa and World T20 squad and being drafted by the Delhi Daredevils to play in his first Indian Premier League match last month.
He returned to Canterbury last week and went straight into the side for this week's rain-hit draw with Leicestershire, replacing stand-in Adam Rouse, who had more dismissals than any other wicketkeeper so far this season.
Billings admitted: “It’s good to be home and great to join back up with the lads.
“They’ve had a fantastic start to the year – I’ve been keeping tabs on them from the heat of India. Hopefully, I can come back and add to this winning formula.”
Billings said the impact of new captain Sam Northeast was already being felt adding: “Speaking to many of the guys it’s been the best start to the year in terms of pre-season and prep that they have been a part of, which can only be a good thing.
“They are just creating an environment where people can express themselves and go out and play the way they want to. The signs are looking good.”
After a winter of white-ball cricket, Billings is keen to showcase his First-Class skills and revealed his ambitions to be considered among the best in the world in Test cricket.
He said: “I average about 30 and for me that’s not good enough. I need that to be 40 at least.
“I’ve only played two full years of First-Class cricket though, whereas I’ve had four or five of white-ball.
“Of course I want to improve all aspects of my game and definitely my Test aspiration is still strong. I have to keep working hard and get back into the rhythm of the format.
“I wouldn’t say I’m pigeon-holed as a white-ball cricketer, though I’m stronger (at present) but I think I have got the technique and hopefully will develop the temperament to become a proper First-Class cricketer.”
He added: “Hopefully, I can push up the order and I would like be scoring 150-plus – there’s no reason why I can’t be doing that. I haven’t played red ball cricket since September so it’s just a matter of playing and improving.
“I’m a long way away from Test match cricket at the moment but runs is the currency. That’s what gets you recognition.”
Of his IPL exploits, including a half-century on debut – the first player in four years to do so – Billings said: “It’s only when you sit down at home you think ‘that was a whirlwind few months.’
“It was a phenomenal experience, one I will cherish for the rest of my life. It was an honour to be picked up and a special experience.”
He added: “It’s not necessarily just watching other guys bat, more picking things up from talking to them. I had a 10 or 15 minute chat with Virat Kholi about his mindset towards the game.
“I want to be the best in the world but if you look at him, how he lives and how good he is – you can’t not be inspired.”