Published: 11:30, 17 January 2018
Sam Northeast has been replaced as Kent Cricket’s captain, the club have announced.
The captaincy will be taken over by Sam Billings for the 2018 season with Northeast being allowed to speak to other counties.
The 28-year-old did not wish to extend his deal with Kent as he enters the last year of his contract, according to the club.
The Times reported in December that Northeast was looking to play in Division 1 to enhance his chances of playing Test cricket.
Kent's chairman of cricket Graham Johnson said: “With Sam Billings at the helm we have someone who shares the pride in our tradition and excitement about our ambitions.
“We are in discussion with a number of players who are keen to join Kent and we will be reinforcing the squad with a number of recruits before the season starts.”
“The club has granted Sam Northeast permission to talk to other clubs. Sam has opted not to sign a contract extension and we have reluctantly accepted his request to talk to other clubs despite our best efforts to convince him to commit his future to the club.”
Northeast has played for Kent since youth level and made his first-class debut against Durham in 2007.
He has scored more than 3,600 runs in all competitions for Kent since replacing Rob Key as captain in 2016.
Northeast was recently selected for the England Lions white ball matches in the West Indies, which will be played in March.
Billings, 26, has been in Australia this winter where he has played for the Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash League. He was called up for the England ODI squad for their series in Australia which started on Sunday.
Billings has also been selected for the England T20 squad for the Tri-series against Australia and New Zealand.
Billings, who was Kent vice-captain, said: “I am incredibly proud and honoured to have been offered the Kent captaincy. It means a lot personally as I have been involved at Kent since I was eight years of age.
“We have a very talented group of players and I am really looking forward to working with all the players and the coaching staff to help take the club forward. It will be challenging but I am very excited by the opportunity.”
Kent will be leaving for their pre-season tour later this month when they travel to Antigua for the West Indies Super50 series.
Joe Denly will be captaining the side for the duration of this series while Billings is on England duty.
Head coach Matt Walker will not be travelling with the team as he joining up with the England squad as a coach for the T20 Tri-series.