Playing in IPL has been an amazing experience: Sam Billings
The 24-year-old Sam Billings made his England debut in 2015 and straightaway caught the eyes of the cricketing world with his brilliant and fearless batting. Billings proved that he fit in with 53 off 25 balls against Pakistan in Dubai, where he went on a scooping spree even against the pace of Wahab Riaz.
Currently plying his trade in IPL for Delhi Daredevils, Billings had to wait for few matches to get a chance in the playing XI but then scored a brilliant 54 from just 34 balls against Kolkata Knight Riders on debut to remind every one of his immense potential.
In a recent interview, Billings shared his experience on playing in IPL,working with Rahul Dravid,his desire to play in BBL and much more.
Q: This is your first time in the IPL and you have already made an impression. How has the experience been so far?
Billings: The IPL has been everything I expected, and more. It is probably the leading franchise tournament in the world, and has set the bar high in terms of competition. Others like Big Bash are not too far behind, I think. But to play in a country where fans are so passionate about cricket is fantastic. It has been an amazing ride.
Q: Well, since you mentioned the BBL, this is your second taste of franchise cricket after the Pakistan Super League. Any plans of going Down Under for another such experience?
Billings: Well, if the opportunity arises, I would love to play in the Big Bash. It looks an awesome spectacle. I went to Adelaide some time ago and spent a lot of time there. Australia is one of my favourite places on the planet. I have played in the PSL, where my side won the tournament. Hopefully, we can win another with Delhi Daredevils. Who knows a few doors will open as long as I keep working hard.
Q: You scored a maiden fifty in your first innings for the Daredevils. What changes have you tried to make to achieve success here? How important has it been playing spin as a factor in the IPL?
Billings: It is a massive area of focus and training for me, just the footwork bit on turning tracks. Sweeping is a good option. It is more than just about going down the pitch. You can also use the depth of the crease and a lot of sub-continental players do that so well. And very few like Virat Kohli are just sensational off the backfoot against spin. So, this has been a massive area, and I am just trying to get better to be able to put as much pressure on the bowlers as possible.
Q: And what sort of knowledge have you gained from working with Rahul Dravid? Billings: He is amazingly chilled out considering that he is almost a demi-god here. He cannot go anywhere without people wanting a photo. And I have just one per cent of the pressure on me as compared to him. So his advice has been to just chill and keep things in perspective as long as you are putting the hard yards in the nets. He also told me not to undersell myself in terms of a role in the batting line-up. Instead of just whacking it at no.6/7, he has helped me develop into a proper batsman in the middle order. Doing that you have a lot of options to bat at no.3, 4 or 5.
Q: You are one of the few English players in the IPL. How important is this exposure? And do you feel that more English cricketers should be involved here? Billings: Yes, it has been a constant effort to push English cricketers into the IPL. Obviously, it is the start of the season and I am missing cricket at home, but there is no doubt in my mind that I have already improved as a cricketer, whether the results follow now or down the line. I am sure if you see next year there will be a lot more boys putting their names in the hat for sure. I think English cricketers will also be great assets to the IPL and we have shown that in the last T20 World Cup.
Q: That was some turn-around for English cricket since 2015. As someone who just made his debut last year, how tough has it been to acquire this aggressive intent?
Billings: No one would disagree that as English cricketers we have to change our mentality and thinking a bit. And Eoin Morgan is a massive reason for the change. He has helped the whole squad think in an aggressive manner and it has been a revelation since last year. If someone had said that we could get to World T20 final people would be laughing at us. It was a matter of catching up with the rest of the world, and Australia, New Zealand, and India set the tone. I think we have finally caught up.
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