Sam Billings has been added to England‘s Test squad to face India at Edgbaston on Friday. This happened after joining the team at Trent Bridge as a Covid replacement for Ben Foakes, whose future is in jeopardy as he endures five days of isolation.
Billings was once again called up on short notice after Foakes missed the entirety of the third day of play at Headingley due to a stiff back. Billings’ previous Test appearance had been in Hobart at the conclusion of the Ashes tour in January.
Even though Sam Billings’ primary contribution was a peculiar caught-behind from Neil Wagner. And now he has officially earned his second Test cap, Billings told Sky Sports prior to the start of the last day of play at Headingley that he is already enjoying the new mood surrounding the England team.
“[McCullum’s] got this amazing quality to be able to say something with emotion, but being emotionless, if that makes sense,”
“So the lasting effect it has on the group isn’t like it’s talked about for days afterwards. It’s to the point, it’s clear, it’s clarity, and it’s about making you feel ten feet tall”
“I know that’s been said a lot, but that’s probably his best quality. He absolutely puts confidence into you and together with Stokes they encapsulate exactly what this team wants to be.”
“The most important thing is he’s a quality human being. Everyone knows that, whoever has played against him or the Kiwi lads as well. He’s a quality human being and everything he does is with incredible integrity and honesty.”
“And that’s all you want as players. You want that clarity and honesty, combined with someone who’s got the best in mind for you. Yeah, it’s a really good combination.”
Sam Billings excited to work under McCullum for England’s final Test
Having worked under Brendon McCullum at Kolkata Knight Riders, Billings is already boosted up to work with him for his national team. However, it’s uncertain if Billings will be forced to play in his third Test against India on Friday.
Following his diagnosis on Sunday, Foakes was placed in isolation. One day before the Test, he is scheduled to reunite with the team in Birmingham. The lone addition to the team’s current 15-man roster is Billings, and the selectors decided to stick with Zak Crawley at the top of the order.
Despite a lacklustre series in which he was clearly out of form and without confidence, the committee has decided to give Zak another chance. His final performance was a lacklustre innings of 25 from 33 balls, which included the run-out of his opening partner Alex for 9, and he finished the series with only 87 runs.
Crawley had been backed to succeed, having already scored a century in the Caribbean earlier this year, but with the short turnaround between the India Test and the fact that England’s management of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum are trying to reinforce a positive outlook within their players.
James Anderson’s return to spearhead the attack in the India Test is one possible change; he missed the Headingley encounter due to an ankle ailment. Anderson’s return may come at the expense of either Jamie Overton, who claimed one wicket in each innings of his debut Test but was singled out by Stokes for his match-changing innings of 97, or Stuart Broad, whose 12 wickets in the series came at 35.25 after Matthew Potts shone against New Zealand with 14 wickets at 23.28.