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Sam Billings has no regrets after opting for cricket

By Staff Reporter

England newcomer Sam Billings found it a surprisingly easy decision to make when the prospect of Premier League football threatened to overtake his cricket career.

A decade ago, 24-year-old Billings was not only on his way to becoming the destructive wicketkeeper-batsman he is today but also showed promise as a young striker in his native Kent.

The small matter of three goals against Tottenham's Academy side earned him the offer of a trial with the London giants but he never made it due to a cricketing opportunity in the Caribbean.

Billings might have been a low-key participant in his maiden one-day series, but the thrills and spills of England's 3-2 win over New Zealand left an indelible mark.

Speaking ahead of the tour-closing Twenty20 at Old Trafford, Billings was invited to reminisce about his football exploits.

"I dabbled in a bit of football back in the day," he said.

"I'd like to say I played centre attacking midfield but that's generous. I was up front, a show pony.

"I scored a hat-trick against Tottenham Academy and managed to get a trial, but I didn't go because I was on tour in Barbados with South of England Under-14s.

"Cricket was always going to be the only sport I was going to play to a professional level. That was my first passion."

But Billings is a cricket man through and through, a fact that comes out loud and clear as he surveys the impact of the record-shattering series against the Black Caps.

Not only has it reinvigorated public interest, which had plummeted during a dire World Cup campaign, but Billings also hopes to have set the tone for an exciting Ashes summer.

"It's been a great advert for one-day cricket and a fantastic result," he said. "It has been a phenomenal experience and one I will remember for the rest of my life.

"It is a great start but it is only a start. We want to take this team further forward. Hopefully the vibe around this team can be taken forward into the Ashes and the one-day series against Australia."

Belfast Telegraph

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