Published: 15:05, 18 February 2021
| Updated: 15:44, 18 February 2021
Kent captain Sam Billings will miss the start of the county season as he heads to play in the Indian Premier League.
Billings will feature for the Delhi Capitals in the 2021 after being picked up for £200,000 in the IPL auction on Thursday.
It's great news for Billings who will get the chance to play in India ahead of the T20 World Cup which is due to take place later this year.
But, with the IPL due to run from April to the start of June, it means he'll miss the best part of the first two months of the campaign with Kent.
Kent director of cricket Paul Downton said: “We have never stood in the way of a player who earns the opportunity play in the IPL.
“It is the most high profile and competitive T20 league in the world, and county cricket cannot match the financial sums that are on offer to players who are successfully bid for by the franchises.
“With the T20 World Cup set to be played in India later this year, this year’s IPL is a major opportunity for Sam to cement his place in the World Cup squad, especially after his inclusion in England’s IT20 squad to face India this March.
“He has been picked up by Delhi after setting his base auction price at the highest amount, which demonstrates how much they wanted Sam to be part of their squad.
“We agreed that the most important factor for Sam is that he gets plenty of match time in the IPL, otherwise he would be better off playing Championship cricket for Kent.
“From a cricket perspective, the experience players get from playing in the tournament is extremely valuable, and players bring this knowledge back to Kent along with an increased number of playing connections which can prove very helpful when deciding on which overseas players to contract.
“Sam will come back a stronger player, which can only be a good thing for Kent’s ambitions moving forward.
“His absence will also create opportunities for other members of our squad, who are desperate to play first team cricket for Kent, to gain experience and compete even harder for a regular first team spot.”
Billing previously played in the IPL for Delhi in 2016-17 and featured for Chennai Super Kings in 2018-19.
Among his team-mate at Delhi this year will be Surrey's England bowler Tom Curran and Australia batsman Steve Smith.
Billings will also feature in the new Hundred competition this summer for the Oval Invincibles.