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IPL side Kolkata Knight Riders sign Kent Cricket captain Sam Billings for their 2022 season

Captain Sam Billings will miss the start of Kent’s county season once again as he heads to play in the Indian Premier League.

Billings will feature for the Kolkata Knight Riders this year, having been bought at auction on Sunday for £195,700 after he impressed for Sydney Thunder in the Australian Big Bash.

Kent skipper Sam Billings. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Kent skipper Sam Billings. Picture: Barry Goodwin

It’s great news for the 30-year-old, who helped Kent to T20 Blast glory in 2021, as well as the County Championship Division 3 title.

But, with the IPL starting on April 2 and Kent starting their County Championship Division 1 campaign away to Essex on Thursday, April 7, it means he’ll miss the early part of Kent’s campaign, with the IPL due to run until early June.

Billings said: “(I am) so looking forward to being a part of the Kolkata Knight Riders - an incredible franchise, it’s had so much success over the years.

“And hopefully, I can play a part in bringing some success back to Kolkata.

“(I am) really looking forward to it, can’t wait to get out there and, of course, to be a part of the galaxy of the Knights.”

Pembury-born Billings previously has played in the IPL for Delhi and Chennai Super Kings.

Last year, he was due to miss the best part of the first two months of the campaign with Kent - but returned to the UK early with the IPL postponed in May due to a rise in Covid cases.

In 2022, Kolkata are currently scheduled to play their final group game on May 27 - by which point Kent will have played six County Championship matches and started their T20 defence - although the county have always been supportive of Billings' overseas endeavours.

Billings is joined in Kolkata by fellow Englishman Alex Hales, signed for £146,790, as well as Afghanistan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi, who has had spells at Kent as an overseas player.

But fellow Afghanistan international, leg-spinner Qais Ahmad, who is set to return to Kent for their T20 Blast defence, went unsold at auction.

It has been a successful few months for Billings.

As well as helping Kent to their first trophies in 14 years, he made his England Test debut in the Ashes during the fifth Test of the series in January in Hobart.

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