The go-getter opening batsman from England, Sam Billings, wasn't part of the ICC World Cup 2019 owing to a shoulder injury but the crocked wicket-keeper batsman has recovered from the jolt and has been appointed as vice-captain for the upcoming tour of New Zealand.
Billings last represented England in March this year in a Twenty20 International game versus West Indies in Basseterre. Immediately after the series, he picked up an injury that dashed his hopes of playing his maiden World Cup.
He has been performing well over the past few months and struck three centuries in his last five knocks for his county side Kent in County Championship Division One.
The attacking batsman bats with natural flair and likes to get on with the game right from the first ball he faces. He is overjoyed to be tasked with captaincy role upon his comeback and looks keen on shouldering the responsibility with the aim of improving his leadership skills.
"It's great to get some recognition and it's a huge honour. It's a great opportunity to be recognised as a developing leader. And there's an element of personal development about it too," Billings remarked.
Billings is not new to captaincy as he has been leading his local county side over the last few years.
"I captained the England Lions last winter and my county for the last two years. Eoin gave me a call a couple of weeks ago and said he'd love me to do it. I suppose he must see something in me. I'm looking forward to learning from him and implanting what I've done at Kent," Billings said.
Billings doesn't want to compromise on his batting and wicket-keeping duties after accepting the added responsibility of vice-captaincy.
“But I'm in the side as a batsman first and foremost and then as a keeper. You have to be able to perform at that top-level consistently in those roles firstly. The captaincy is an added bonus and one I really enjoy. It makes you take responsibility for yourself and other guys," he explained.
Billings: "I'm in the side as a batsman first and foremost and then as a keeper" ©Getty Images
Billings has a terrific track record in domestic and at the international level. In his last match before the injury, he slugged 87 off 47 balls, smashing ten fours and three maximums, helping his side register a comprehensive 137-run win - which turned out to be England's largest win against the Caribbean side.
After being forced to warm the bench and in his time away from International cricket, Billings kept himself focused on his comeback and is now optimistic to carry his good nick in the New Zealand tour.
"One great thing that's been created around this group it that's it's so easy for people to come in and express themselves," he stated.
Billings has utilised the break to work on the mental side of the game.
"The last innings I played was that 87 in the West Indies. But then I got injured and missed a lot of the year. So even though that innings in the West Indies was a long time ago, it's about continuing that momentum in an England shirt. For me, it's about enjoying it and it's good to be back playing.
"The injury has given me some perspective. I just have to make the most out of every opportunity. For me, as a player, my focus is on being in that T20 World Cup squad."
Eoin Morgan (captain), Jonny Bairstow, Tom Banton, Sam Billings (vice-captain), Pat Brown, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Joe Denly, Lewis Gregory, Chris Jordan, Saqib Mahmood, Dawid Malan, Matt Parkinson, Adil Rashid, James Vince