If Sam Billings’ energy behind the stumps wasn’t a big enough indicator, he’s very happy to be playing Test match cricket for England.
Many would have thought that his only impact in Australia this summer would be in the BBL, but a combination of injuries and poor results has given the wicketkeeper his Test debut.
When asked about how he’s found playing in the Ashes, Billings had a pretty simple answer.
“I absolutely loved it,” he said at Stumps on Day 2.
“Look it’s far better than being sat on a sofa waiting to board a plane, I loved every minute of it,” he joked.
Billings’ journey into the Test side has been well documented, overcoming the odds and great geographical distances to get his spot.
After finishing his stint with the Sydney Thunder, Billings was set to head back home to prepare to play white-ball cricket for England on the upcoming tour to the West Indies.
But at the last minute, he was pulled off the plane after being elevated to the Test squad, instead driving over 820kms from the Gold Coast to Sydney to join the team.
Billings says “it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster”, but the unexpected opportunity and support he’s received is what standouts.
“I’ve got two overwhelming feelings of nothing to lose and everything to gain in terms of this opportunity, one I didn’t expect.
“I’m just really appreciative of all the support I’ve got, all the messages I’ve got through, and the love shown has blown me away.”
Despite the spotlight of making his Test debut in the Ashes, Billings revealed that’s he’s more relaxed and enjoying himself more than when he’s previously played cricket for England.
“I’ve been able to enjoy it a lot more as well, more than I probably have done previously when I’ve played for England.
“Sometimes I felt under so much pressure to perform and so much pressure to take an opportunity, I’ve probably not enjoyed it as much as I could have.”
Billings revealed that when he’s represented his country in the past, he was often worried about if he would be playing in the next game or keeping his spot in the squad.
But in line with his unexpected rise into the Test team, Billings is playing this match with freedom after not expecting to even be in this position.
“This I kind of saw as a free hit and a great opportunity to really make a statement,” he said.
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One aspect that’s been clear to see from just two days of play, has been the energy and support Billings has brought behind the stumps.
It’s something that Billings is aware of himself and he views it as an important part of his role within the team.
“Of course, positivity and energy is something that comes naturally to me.
“I’ll continue to be myself and offer that and keep driving the lads on in the field.
“I think that intensity in the field is something that’s really important to me, it kind of sets us up as a team.”
Billings also revealed that his battle with Australia had begun earlier in the day when he jokingly got a text message from Australia’s captain and former Penrith teammate Pat Cummins.
“He sent me a message this morning of a scorecard of when we played together against Sutherland Cricket Club,” Billings laughed.
“I got a duck and he got 100, and he reminded me of that this morning.”
Thankfully for Billings, his first Test innings went far better than that, making a solid 29 runs off 48 balls before being dismissed by Scott Boland.
But frustratingly for England, its batting woes continued, failing to reach 300 runs again this series.
“I think the most disappointing thing was whenever we kind of wrestled back a bit of momentum, we lost a wicket at crucial times,” Billings said when reflecting on the second innings.
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