In an exclusive interview with Headstrong: An Innings With prior to his recent Test call-up, England’s Sam Billings revisited the “turning point” that made him believe that he “could have the game to step up and play Test cricket”.
Last week Billings received his first international red-ball call-up after Ben Foakes was ruled out of the upcoming Test series with New Zealand with a hamstring injury. While James Bracey is set to take the gloves at Lord’s in what will be his Test debut, Billings’ escalation to the red-ball squad is a boost in his hopes of playing Test cricket.
Billings – who has played more than 50 white-ball internationals for England – spoke to Headstrong podcast host Louis Strong earlier this year about his Test ambitions and reflected fondly on a strong run of form in the County Championship at the end of the 2019 season.
After a dislocated shoulder ruled him out of contention for a spot in England’s 2019 World Cup squad, Billings returned to fitness later that summer to play in the T20 Blast and in Kent’s final three County Championship matches. In the space of three consecutive innings against Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire, he was able to double his tally of first-class tons from three to six.
“After my injury about 18 months ago, the only cricket I really played that year – I played a handful of T20 games – was four day-cricket and actually did really well towards the end of the season, scored three hundreds in a row,” said Billings.
“For me, that was a turning point in my own head that, actually, I could have the game to step up and play Test cricket and have that ambition. You always want to, but before you actually do it, you prove to yourself more than anyone else that you might have the capability. That was a big turning point for me. Against Nottinghamshire, Ravi Ashwin was playing for them and then I scored two in a game at Headingley against Yorkshire which was very pleasing because everyone likes beating Yorkshire. That proved to me that I could have the game to kick on and play Test cricket.”
You can listen to the full interview with Billings on the Headstrong podcast, available to listen to on all the usual podcast hosting platforms. Headstrong: An Innings With supports the Ruth Strauss Foundation and is exclusively previewed by Wisden.com.