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Billings can’t wait for home opener
Billings can’t wait for home opener

Sam Billings played his first cricket of the summer last weekend as he skippered the Kent Spitfires at the start of the Vitality Blast and with a double header this weekend at Canterbury – against Somerset and Middlesex – the Blast skipper can’t wait. 

Friday night’s home opener with Somerset will be Billings’ first taste of cricket at headquarters in 2024, and he told KSN this week, “Absolutely buzzing ahead of the game – I am really looking forward to it.”

“There is always a great atmosphere here – the support we get at Canterbury is second to none, so we are all really looking forward to kicking off the home campaign and hopefully with the two points.” 

Kent go into the weekend after a record drubbing of Middlesex at Chelmsford before a narrow defeat by the Hampshire Hawks at Southampton.

Reflecting on the two games, the skipper admitted, “Friday was pretty much the complete performance from everyone as everyone chipped in. Incredibly happy with that and we actually played a lot of the cricket at Hampshire as well except for just the final moments where we lost it at the end which was obviously a huge shame, but there was a lot of positives to take out of the first two games and sets us up well.” 

Billings has opted out of the four-day game this summer following the birth of his first daughter and spoke about the time away from the game, saying, “It is the best thing that I have done in terms of having a mentally refreshed break and then to come in to focus on the white ball stuff!”

“For me, it is the best decision I have made for a very long time – I have not played in three months and am raring to get back to it.”

“I had probably lost some desire as I was playing literally non-stop – it has been a really positive thing now I’ve a thirteen-week-old daughter who has been keeping me busy and it has been great to have some family time.” 

“It’s given me a different perspective – people only focus on the cricket and the family life off it is as important, if not more important, so it gives you that perspective and allows you to hopefully making the cricket even better and I’m looking forward to that being the case, and as I said it’s re-energised me and given me a new purpose in life.” 

Daniel Bell- Drummond took the captain’s chair for the County Championship, but Billings admitted that the four-day skipper is going to play a big part in Kent’s quest for T20 silverware.

“He’s going to be huge,” Billings said. “He is going to be a great leader and has a very different style to how I go about it, and I think that is why we complement each other so well. He will be a brilliant captain in the longer format and definitely gives me the support that I need in the Blast.” 

The Canterbury square has seen some big scores so far this summer leading to some onlookers to query what a par score will be in the shorter format.

“I’ll be interested to see the wickets,” Billings said thoughtfully, “I think we’ll probably leave more grass on than they have in the Championship, but we always get good T20 wickets here – we’ve always played pretty well here and we will always back ourselves if we play on as good a wicket as possible, we will always back ourselves to beat anyone!” 

“It doesn’t get much tougher, as we start at home against the defending Champions,” Billings added referring to Friday night’s clash with Somerset.

“We have had some epic games with them both here and at Taunton over the last few years. They are a similar side to us – they are really well balanced; they bat all the way down and have plenty of bowling options as well, but as I said, we will always back ourselves when we play well against anyone, and it is all about doing what we do really well.” 

“The Canterbury crowd is always very partisan which is great for us, and away teams always find it tough to come here. They find it quite a tough atmosphere to play in and the support we are always shown is great and we are really looking forward to hopefully putting on a performance for them on Friday night.” 

“Last year we narrowly missed out as we were very depleted at the end which was probably the difference between qualifying and not qualifying.”

“We know that when we are at full strength, we are as strong as anyone and the first objective as always is to qualify for the knockouts where anything can happen and that must be our first focus going into what hopefully be a great weekend.”