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Cricket: Billings wants Kent to move on from T20 blow

PUBLISHED: 15:59 28 August 2018 | UPDATED: 15:59 28 August 2018

Kent captain Sam Billings (pic John Walton/PA)

Kent captain Sam Billings (pic John Walton/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Kent captain Sam Billings has asked his side to move on and focus on winning red-ball promotion after the Spitfires Vitality Blast T20 campaign came to a “hugely frustrating end” in Canterbury last Thursday.

Billings’ team lost a home quarter-final to Lancashire Lightning by six wickets to miss out on reaching Finals Day for the first time in a decade after being restricted to 133-9 on a spin-friendly surface at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.

“It’s hugely frustrating because it was our worst batting performance we’ve put on this year,” said the 27-year-old.

“I think batting first was the right decision, but we just batted terribly.

“Whenever we play on flat, pacey pitches, like at Beckenham, we play better cricket than anyone, the only time we come unstuck is on slow ‘snot-heaps’ like that, so, if I’m honest, it’s hugely frustrating and it’s not the pitch you want to prepare for a game against a Lancashire team with their five spin options.

“It’s a dull end to our T20 campaign when, at times, we’ve been not far off the best team in the country. We didn’t quite have the composure to take the game deep and put their seamers under pressure toward the end. We were probably 10 to 15 runs short at least.”

Third-placed Kent now return to Specsavers County Championship action in Derby where they will look to secure their seventh win of the four-day campaign against a mid-table Derbyshire side.

“It would be a real, real shame if we came out of this season empty handed and I certainly hope the lads will use this disappointment to strengthen our promotion push,” added Billings.

“We’ve gone close in the two white-ball competitions, with fine margins either way, so we have to turn this frustration into something positive.”

Having said their farewells to white-ball specialists Adam Milne and Marcus Stoinis, Kent will be lifted by the return of Matt Henry, the Kiwi fast bowler who, despite missing a month’s action, remains the division’s leading wicket-taker with 49 scalps at an average of 13.4 runs apiece.

“It’s a massive boost to have Adam back for the run in,” said Billings. “We’ve got five games left to play some proper cricket, that’s 20 days of cricket, 20 days to bring our intensity and our proper grit and determination to our matches and ultimately get up to where we should be.

“We wished we could have had Matt all season, of course we do, but we had a great win at Leicestershire without him and I’m hopeful that his arrival will help us add to that momentum.

“I’m hugely proud of the group of players we have at this club now. We have some great men in the changing room and, as blokes, we all stick together, which is a huge part of any team sport.

“We’ve made a lot of progress in a very short space of time in building the culture we want here and hopefully we can continue to build upon that year-on-year. It’s a start, we’re certainly not finished yet and, I believe, the best is yet to come.”

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