Billings insists England have 'plenty to play for' in ODI series

Sam Billings insists England have ‘plenty to play for’ in ODI series in Australia despite ‘horrible’ timing just days after T20 World Cup triumph… with Jason Roy and James Vince set to feature in much-changed line-up

  • England embark on first assignment as double world champions on Thursday
  • England face Australia in first ODI just a few days after T20 World Cup final 
  • Roy set to return with England set to rest some of their world champions 

England embark on their first assignment as double world champions in the small hours of Thursday morning, with Sam Billings insisting they really are in the mood for their ODI series in Australia.

The first of three matches starts in Adelaide less than four days after Jos Buttler’s team clinched the T20 World Cup in Melbourne – prompting Moeen Ali to slam the schedule as ‘horrible’.

But Billings, one of the six members of England 15-man one-day squad who were not part of the T20 triumph, hardly sounded like a man keen to give the Aussies a chance to remove any gloss.

Sam Billings is one of six members of 15-man England squad who were not part of T20 triumph

‘It’s England-Australia in Australia,’ he said. ‘It’s not a friendly, is it? We’re great mates with a lot of those Aussie guys. But when it comes on to the pitch, you want to beat them. It’s always a great rivalry and always great games, regardless of the format. We’re really looking forward to it.’

Even so, both the timing and the relevance of this series – which doesn’t count for the ICC’s super league, the qualification tournament for next year’s 50-over World Cup in India – have led to renewed soul-searching about the sport’s unsustainable fixture list.

England may be hoping to persuade Ben Stokes to come out of his ODI retirement for that World Cup, but the recent decision of Somerset’s highly rated Will Smeed to sign a white-ball-only contract feels like the direction of travel.

Opener Jason Roy is set to return with England set to rest some of their world champions

‘The schedule doesn’t allow all-format players,’ said Billings. ‘Ben Stokes is the prime example. If that’s not a wake-up call to whoever runs the schedule, it should be really. As for Will Smeed, if that’s what he wants to do, it’s his decision. Good on him.’

England will give a breather to some of their world champions, paving the way for a return for opener Jason Roy, who was dropped for the T20 World Cup after a dismal home summer.

James Vince is also set for a recall, having made his only international hundred in his most recent ODI – against Pakistan at Edgbaston in 2021. Some of the second-string bowlers, such as spinner Liam Dawson, and fast bowlers Olly Stone and Luke Wood, may also get a run-out.

Moeen Ali (R) slammed the schedule as ODI series begins a few days after T20 World Cup final

England’s, whose last one-day series in Australia, after the disastrous 2017-18 Ashes, resulted in a 4-1 win, are now looking to protect their No 1 ranking against a team led for the first time by Pat Cummins following Aaron Finch’s decision to quit ODIs.

‘This is a great opportunity at the back end of a trip to make an impression, but ultimately to perform,’ said Billings. ‘There’s seven or eight of us that have got plenty to play for in this series, regardless of what happened for the other lads.’

Billings is hoping to slot in at No 5 or 6 with a year to go before the World Cup, but added: ‘Or at four, depending on Ben Stokes not being there.’

Even when he’s not playing, Stokes remains the talk of the town.

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