Sam Billings happy to be back in England contention ahead of New Zealand tour

Sam Billings
Sam Billings

Sam Billings hopes he can pick up where he left off on England's tour of New Zealand.

The Kent wicket-keeper has been named as a vice-captain for the T20 leg of the tour, which begins with a warm-up against against a New Zealand XI on Sunday.

A dislocated shoulder stopped him building on the 87 he made against the West Indies in his last England outing in March, but he has headed to New Zealand with renewed optimism.

"It's great to get some recognition and it's a huge honour," Billings said. "It's a great opportunity to be recognised as a developing leader. And there's an element of personal development about it, too.

"I've been on the fringes for the last four or five years. I've made some performances along the way, but we have such depth in our squad in terms of batsmen and keepers.

"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."

Parkinson's mixed emotions

Matt Parkinson
Matt Parkinson

Matt Parkinson meanwhile wants to make a lasting impression after reflecting on a "bittersweet" first call-up which came only a few months after his mother passed away.

One day after the highly-rated Lancashire leg-spinner's maiden 10-wicket match haul in the Specsavers County Championship against Sussex in July, Parkinson and his family were in mourning after the sudden death of mum Maria.

The tragedy would inspire Parkinson, who had another productive Vitality Blast campaign with 21 wickets at an average of 14.61, to earn a spot in both the Twenty20 and Test squads for England's first winter assignment.

Parkinson told the PA news agency: "It's been a tough summer for me and my family.

"I think I used it as a motivation to perform well and luckily I did that. I'd say bittersweet, I'm still very proud and I think she would be as well.

"I'm looking forward to the tour and knowing that she's looking down on me.

"The first call-up is very special for any cricketer that gets selected. You're not actually as far away as you think.

"But I'm not just making up the numbers. I just want to impress and just sort of do what I do. If that translates into me playing then brilliant, if it doesn't then I want to leave a good impression on the coach and the players."

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