Kent and Oval Invincibles captain Sam Billings has defended comments he made regarding young players who were being called up to act as replacements in the Hundred to be “far better off” than if they were to stay with their counties.
Billings’ regular club Kent are without ten of their Vitality Blast regulars which has left their squad severely weakened for the Royal London Cup.
Kent have started the competition poorly with just one win from their first six games which have also included two washouts. Billings conceded the results were disappointing, but in comments made after the Oval Invincibles fixture against Welsh Fire, pointed to Kent seamer Matt Milnes, who had been called up at the last minute by the Welsh Fire and taken the wicket of Jason Roy with his first ball of the competition, as an example of the benefits that come with the Hundred.
“”What a great experience for a young bloke, getting a wicket with his first ball and riding the emotions of that game. That is what’s going to produce international cricketers. For us as a club – and as Kent fans in general – that’s what we want to do: produce England cricketers and franchise cricketers.”
It’s the last line that attracted particular attention, with Dan Whiting, writing for ESPNcricinfo, questioning whether Kent fans would agree that the purpose of the club was to produce “franchise cricketers.”
I think these comments have been taken out of context Dan…
Essentially I think it’s a brilliant barometer of the progress we have made as a county producing so many players that have been recognised as top tier in this country that have been drafted (without bias). Shows why
— Sam Billings (@sambillings) August 6, 2021
Billings responded in order to clarify his comments and stated that rather than the purpose of a county necessarily being to produce franchise cricketers, “essentially I think it’s a brilliant barometer of the progress made as a county producing so many players that have been recognised as top tier in this country” and serves as evidence as to why Kent are competing in the later stages of the Vitality Blast.
“Whether people like it or not (the 100), one thing that can’t be argued is that it’s as close to international cricket as we’ve got in our domestics structure in terms of pressure, atmosphere etc. In turn players will be better off for those experiences. The structure needs a lot of work and counties need to be supported hugely moving forward.”
Billings also questioned why players who had been drafted for the Hundred were receiving online abuse from fans, “for literally being signed in a draft live on TV” to play in a tournament that they hadn’t come up with.
“What would these people do in our positions?”
The interaction concluded amicably with Dan Whiting sharing Billings’ comments and also praise from fans who had found the conversation to be an insightful example of how social media can act as an effective tool for communication between players and fans.
Love this exchange between @sambillings and @TheMiddleStump. Not nasty but an adult conversation about pros and cons of certain aspects. Sam is right, as a Kent fan I’m extremely proud Crawley, Denly, Billo have been looked at. Plus Milnes being picked up in 💯 same as DBD pic.twitter.com/yitcCFsMxQ
— Marc Gisby 🏏🎮 🇪🇺 (@gisby_marc) August 7, 2021
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