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Kent Cricket wicketkeeper-batsman Sam Billings signs new deal with the club

By Alex Hoad

Kent and England star Sam Billings has signed a contract extension to stay at the club.

The 26-year-old Kent Cricket Academy graduate will also become the club’s vice-captain from the 2018 season, having skippered the side in Sam Northeast's absence in the Tour match against West Indies in August.

Billings has represented England 26 times in white-ball cricket and had been linked with a move to a county playing at a Test ground, with Notts and Surrey rumoured to have been interested.

Sam Billings Picture: Gary Browne
Sam Billings Picture: Gary Browne

However the right-hander said: “I’ve been at the club since I was eight. My family are Kent through and through so it means a lot to play for my home county.

“I’ve still got a lot to prove, particularly in red-ball cricket but I’ve averaged 44 over the last two seasons in First Class cricket so I feel my game is progressing year-on-year.”

The versatile batsman has played in several franchise tournaments including the IPL, Pakistan Super League and Big Bash League, which have limited his Kent availability.

Billings admitted: "I know the Kent supporters would like to see me play a full season of county cricket but these opportunities overseas don’t come around too often and they improve me as a cricketer.

“Pressure situations like the T20 win against Surrey at The Oval are easier because of my experience in the IPL and overseas tournaments so it can only help Kent and hopefully England in the long run."

Head coach Matt Walker claimed: “It’s been great to see Sam’s development as a cricketer and a person over the last few years.

“Sam’s now a senior player in our dressing-room and his experiences overseas have helped his game. I’m excited to see him continue his development as a Kent player.”

Billings said he was relishing his senior role in the dressing room, adding: "I’m a senior player now and enjoyed the experience of captaining the side and helping the younger or less experienced guys where I can.

“We have several guys in the squad capable of playing international cricket which is a promising sign and we all just need to play well more consistently."

Billings is closing in on the club record for T20 catches, two short of the 46 taken by his Kent predecessor and former England keeper Geraint Jones.

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