Sam Billings: The uncapped English wicket-keeper batsman received a maiden Test call-up as a replacement for Ben Foakes yesterday.
Former England spinner and current director of cricket of men’s team Ashley Giles has opened up on why the English selectors thought of resting their IPL players for the imminent two-match Test series against New Zealand beginning from June 2.
As a result, England are likely to hand a debut in the first Test at the Lord’s and the number might increase in the second match. The series is also likely to see a couple of players in Craig Overton and Haseeb Hameed making their comebacks into the Test team after two and five years respectively.
“I think we felt the best option was to [allow the IPL players to] take as much time as they needed after what they’ve been through this winter. If there was a strong case from the players to get back on the horse a bit earlier and play some cricket then we were prepared to listen to that as well. They know their bodies and minds as well as anyone,” Giles told reporters.
Ashley Giles discloses why Sam Billings was picked ahead of Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow
Despite their stance on the IPL players, England ended up handing a maiden Test call-up to wicket-keeper batsman Sam Billings after Ben Foakes was ruled out of the series yesterday.
Billings was among the 14 English players who had taken part in Indian Premier League 2021 before it was postponed earlier this month. In what was his second stint at Delhi Capitals, Billings didn’t get to add to his 22 IPL matches this season.
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The 29-year old player had led Kent in just one County Championship 2021 match before getting a national call-up. In 71 first-class matches, Billings has scored 3,189 runs at an average of 34.29 including six centuries and 14 half-centuries.
“That was the case with [Sam] Billings. He went back to Kent and played some cricket to put himself in the frame. Communication was made from [head coach] Chris Silverwood to those players [Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler] about what the plan was.
“We felt there was no need to go back on that. They’ve been spending time with families and Jos is away for a few days at the moment. We didn’t want to drag those players out of that at the 11th hour. There was no plan to change that,” Giles added.