Published: 13:00, 18 February 2020
| Updated: 13:17, 18 February 2020
Captain Sam Billings has given Kent a major boost by penning a two-year contract extension.
Billings, 28, a Kent Cricket Academy graduate, had already been contracted to the club until the end of this summer but now has committed his future with Kent until at least the end of their 2022 campaign.
The wicketkeeper-batsman has played 218 matches for Kent in all formats and has amassed 6,408 runs, including 10 centuries and 34 half-centuries. He has also taken 260 catches and made 32 stumpings.
Billings has so far featured in 41 matches for England, 15 one-day internationals and 26 T20 internationals, with a top score of 87.
"I’m a Kent man through and through," said the Pembury-born man.
"I’ve been at Kent since I was eight, so being at this club means a lot to me. It’s home.
"We’ve made so much progress over the last two years, and it’s great being back in (County Championship) Division 1 for the first time in over a decade and proving that we have the squad to compete at this level.
"As an ambitious player, you always want to be in an environment that constantly pushes you and that you can add to, as well.
"I still have international ambitions, and I feel as though I'm in the best place to continue to develop my game.
"With the squad that we are pulling together now, we should be challenging across all formats, we’ve been close on various occasions over the last couple of years.
"It’s a work in progress and what we have achieved in such a short period of time has been awesome to see.
"I’m really excited to, hopefully, continue the momentum in the same direction and, ultimately, bring some silverware back to Kent."
Billings has a track record of playing in franchise tournaments around the world, too, including being an Indian Premier League winner with Chennai Super Kings which allows him to bring experience from around the world to Kent's squad.
He has played 93 T20s for Kent, scoring 1,826 runs with a high score of 95 not out coming against Hampshire in 2018.
Despite suffering with injury last year, Billings scored three consecutive County Championship hundreds at the back-end of last season: 100 against Nottinghamshire and 138 and 122 not out against Yorkshire, making him the first player to score two hundreds in a Championship match against Yorkshire at Headingley, and he recorded Kent's highest-ever sixth-wicket stand of 346 alongside all-rounder Darren Stevens.
Since being appointed club captain in 2018, Billings has led the Kent squad to their first promotion in 11 years, back into Division One of the County Championship, where they finished fourth last year, Kent’s best finish since 2004 and just four points off third place.
He also captained the team to a Lord’s final in the Royal London One-Day Cup in 2018 when they were beaten by Hampshire.
Kent’s director of cricket Paul Downton said: "I'm delighted that Sam has committed his future to Kent for at least the next three seasons.
"He has been a driving force in our quest to raise standards throughout the club and is now established as an influential leader.
"For the first time in several years, he is not going to the IPL, and therefore has a great opportunity to play the whole Championship season for the county, as well as the Vitality Blast.
"He is completely focused on scoring runs for Kent, as well as reminding the England selectors of his talent."
More by this authorThomas Reeves