I’m former England star, 32, but now I’ll never play Test cricket again – I need to earn a living elsewhere


SAM BILLINGS was an England Test cricketer less than two years ago – but he will never play red-ball cricket again.

Billings has quit the longer format and signed a white-ball only contract with Kent as he tries to maximise his earnings and find a life-career balance.

GettySam Billings will not play in Test matches again[/caption]

When his Kent mates begin their county championship season against Somerset on Friday, Billings will be there as a fan without even a twitch of regret.

The decision of such a recent Test player to give up first-class cricket shows the ever-increasing grip of T20 franchises and big warnings about the crowded schedule.

Billings, 32, captains reigning champions Oval Invincibles in the Hundred tournament and is now effectively a gun for hire around the world.

He explained: “The definition of a career is earning a living. At some point players have to make decisions based on that and cricket is moving in only one direction.

“The key thing is what a player’s aspirations are. I chose this direction because it gives absolute clarity.

“There’s so much cricket. As players, we can benefit hugely but it can also be detrimental.

“This week, for instance, Ben Stokes has pulled out of the T20 World Cup to manage his workload and prioritise red-ball cricket.

“We’re seeing examples of that throughout the game. There’s so much cricket that it’s very tough for multi-format players. We’re in the saturation phase. The global game has a lot of work to do in terms of the schedule.


“I know the franchise business is a pretty cut throat world. You’re a depreciating asset very quickly if you don’t score the runs or take wickets.

“But I definitely won’t wish I was out there when Kent play on Friday. I’ll be at Canterbury as a fan with a four-week-old little girl at home.

“I’m enjoying some time away from the game and feeling refreshed, which is somewhat of a novelty.

“I probably won’t pick up a bat until next month and my first game will be in the T20 Blast at the end of May.”

Billings made his England limited-overs debut in 2015 and was summoned from Australia’s Big Bash event for his Test debut during the 2021-22 Ashes.

He was even touted as a possible captain before Stokes got the job.

Billings played two Tests in 2022 as a Covid sub and his last international appearance was a one-day against Australia in November 2022.

He added: “My decision would probably have been different if I thought I had a chance of playing Test cricket for England again. But something else would have to be sacrificed.

“I played three Tests but never really as first choice. Only one wicketkeeper can play. It was exhausting, always trying without properly breaking through.

“That door has closed and, at my age, I wanted a bit of certainty, which I’m sure people can understand.

“To most players, four-day cricket is the essence of the game and, if I hadn’t averaged nine or ten last year, I’d have more positive feelings towards it. But I’m better at white-ball cricket.

“I’m doing what I want rather than what other people think I should do, which is quite empowering.”