London, June 4 (IANS) England batsman Sam Billings wants to play Test cricket after missing out on the country’s World Cup sojourn last year where England finished as champions.
“That is definitely a big turning point in my mindset, and my career, I suppose,” Billings told ESPNcricinfo. “I want to play Test cricket. That is a big goal of mine.
“Last year was, obviously, a tough year for me in terms of my shoulder and missing the World Cup. I came back initially and going straight into the T20 didn’t quite play as well as I would have liked and the team, we didn’t play as well as we would have liked.
“But to kind of bounce back and show, prove to myself really more than anything in terms of the Championship stuff, that I have got the game and the mentality to be able to succeed in that format, not only at first-class level but also a level above, for me that was a huge positive out of last year.”
Billings had been selected for England’s ODI against Ireland in the lead-up to the World Cup before he got injured. Billings is now competing with Joe Denly and Moeen Ali for a place in the England side.
“The feedback is, I’m competing with Joe and Moeen, I suppose, for those middle-order, engineroom slots,” Billings said. “Pretty simple really.
“That’s what I liked about Morgs (Eoin Morgan), he just was honest with me and absolutely said, ‘It’s not definite, these things do change and can change’, it’s just that’s the decision that was made.”
Billings is back as part of a 55-man England training group preparing for a proposed international summer of behind-closed-doors fixtures.
“I think there are opportunities in the Test team as well, especially as a batter and also in the wicketkeeping position,” Billings said. “I find that really exciting. I don’t want to just be pigeon-holed as a white-ball player. I’m better than that.”
Asked about being seen as a white-ball specialist, he said: “There’s no one else to blame apart from me really for that.
“I played four IPLs and you’re not going to turn down an opportunity like that as a young player in terms of a chance to develop — especially as there was no financial gain in the first two years. For me I saw it purely as an opportunity as I went for base price to Delhi.
“Obviously four-day cricket had to take a back seat at that point in time and I just didn’t play anywhere near enough cricket. That’s where my mindset has changed a little bit.
“The back end of last year proved to myself more than anyone that I can be more than just an average first-class cricketer or quite a good first-class cricketer. That can be as strong a format as any. But it was only when I really proved it to myself last year that came back to the forefront of my mind.”