Kent County Cricket Club's head coach, Matthew Walker, has expressed his pleasure over Sam Billings' decision to prioritize first-class cricket by pulling out of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023. Billings, who is also the captain of Kent County Cricket team, had been on franchise duties all over the world, which meant that he missed most of the first-class cricket tournaments and his duties for Kent in England. However, he will now be available for Kent throughout the early weeks of the country championship.
Billings announced his decision through a tweet on November 14, in which he wrote, "Have taken the tough decision that I won’t be taking part in the next IPL @KKRiders. Looking to focus on longer format cricket at the start of the English summer with @kentcricket." This decision was entirely Billings' own, according to Walker, who praised the player's commitment to Kent.
Walker noted that having the regular skipper available is always a morale booster for the team, and Billings' decision to prioritize Kent over the IPL is a huge boost for the team. He also stated that Billings' decision was not due to any coercion or manipulation from anyone else, but rather his own desire to be with Kent and start afresh right from the beginning of the County Championship this time.
"He made that decision, and it was purely his own decision to stay and take himself out of the IPL. I think he wants to be here for the start and hit the ground running at the start of our domestic County Championship campaign. It gives more solidarity to the group that he’s here as the captain," said Walker.
Walker, who is a former left-handed batter, stated that Billings' decision meant a lot to him and the Kent County Cricket Club, as the availability of the regular skipper in the squad is always a major boost for the team. He added that Billings had done a pretty decent job for the team and that it would be really good for him to be there for the start of the season.
"He will be able to be around in pre-season and influence in the way that he does so well when he’s around. He’s going to do it from the start of the season, which gives everyone a bit more clarity and solidarity around the start of the year. I think it’s really good. He won’t be dipping in a few weeks into the season," Walker concluded.