Sam Billings expects new generation of stars to emerge from The Hundred
Oval Invincibles captain Sam Billings believes The Hundred will propel a new generation of stars towards stardom – and tips team-mate Will Jacks to lead the charge.
Twenty-four hours on from the women’s launch, Billings will lead his franchise out in the counterpart fixture against Manchester Originals in the first-ever match of the men’s 100-ball tournament.
With a bumper crowd expected at the Kia Oval and the eyes of the cricketing world tuning in to see how the England and Wales Cricket Board’s experiment lands, some players will be stepping out on the biggest stage of their careers.
And while the Invincibles boast a healthy share of international talent – including Billings, Jason Roy, Sunil Narine, the Curran brothers and Saqib Mahmood – there are others waiting to announce themselves to the wider world.
One of those is big-hitting Surrey all-rounder Jacks, who remains uncapped by England despite his recent call-up to the one-day squad.
“I would definitely like to be the guy to make a splash, but there is international quality right through our side, and we’ve got quite a few in this dressing room who will want to be that main man,” Billings told the PA news agency.
“Will Jacks has been in the form of his life and this could be the launch pad for him. I’ll be really excited to see what he can do about catapulting himself to another level.
“That’s what we’ll see throughout this tournament, some of these young guys playing with and against the best in the world. You can go and make a name for yourself, how good is that?
“For guys who haven’t had that exposure around the world in these competitions, it’s going to be great. Everyone will learn so much. I’ve benefited from being in those environments hugely over the last few years. Then there’s someone like Jordan Cox, an exciting talent I’ve spent a lot of time with at Kent, he could really fly on the back this experience.”
Billings is known as an innovative and instinctive batter, boasting one of the widest stroke-making repertoires on the circuit. But even he feels that with 20 balls fewer per innings than a Twenty20 match, the sport is ready to move on again.
“You can never hit the limits. It will always keep progressing and there will always be ways to move the game forward,” he said.
“We’ve even seen some of the older guys starting to reverse paddle. It started off as a normal paddle and now (right-handed) people are hitting left-handed shots as a normal option. With things like that it will keep moving forward…it has to. We’ll keep pushing the boundaries in this new format.”
Phil Salt will be on the opposing side to Billings and is eager to have the honour of facing the first ball of the men’s tournament, even if it ends up making him a trivia subject in the future.
As he showed in his debut series as an England player against Pakistan, he is more than willing to swing hard from the first moment despite the inherent risks.
“At least if I get out first, I’ll be the answer to a brilliant pub quiz question in 10 years,” he said.
“But I’d love it to be me going out there and getting a big score in the first match and winning it for my side. It’s brilliant to be playing first game, a really exciting thing to be part of because the world’s eyes are going to be on it.
“Scoring a hundred in The Hundred? That’s the dream ticket. That would be impressive going but I’m sure it’s been done a few times in the first hundred balls of a T20. If you get off to a flier and find a couple of match-ups you like, it’s possible. I’d just love it to be me or one of the guys from our side.”
David Saker backs England bowlers to make splash at Twenty20 World Cup
He has been working closely with the team over the course of an entertaining back-and-forth series.
Phil Salt grateful for England backing after starring in big win over Pakistan
The opener had scored just 59 runs in his first five innings on tour but blazed 87 not out to guide England to victory over Pakistan on Friday.
Phil Salt powers England to emphatic win over Pakistan as series goes to decider
Opener Salt scored an unbeaten 88 as England won by eight wickets.
Unbeaten Babar Azam gives Pakistan shot at wrapping up England series
Babar held court throughout the 20 overs and guided his team to 169 for six.
Liam Norwell saves Warwickshire as Yorkshire suffer relegation to Division Two
Norwell’s career-best nine wickets for 62 runs sealed a five-run win over Hampshire on a thrilling final day of the season.
DCMS hearing on discrimination in cricket pencilled in for December 13
Azeem Rafiq and Lord Patel are set to be asked to appear.
England captain Jos Buttler ‘learning lots’ despite not playing in Pakistan
Buttler has a calf injury, which has ruled him out of the T20 series so far, but he insisted on travelling and has been observing throughout the trip.
We’re a better team than that – England’s batting disappoints Moeen Ali
The tourists were unable to make 146 in their Twenty20 chase against Pakistan.
Moeen Ali heroics in vain as Pakistan take series lead over England
The tourists failed to chase 146 in Lahore.
Warwickshire up against it to avoid relegation as Yorkshire nervously watch on
The Bears need to beat Hampshire to overhaul Yorkshire.