Sam Billings returns to Kent with rescue mission ahead

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Timm van der Gugten claims 2 for 0 as Glamorgan make early inroads

Kent 70 for 2 (Robinson 43, van der Gugten 2-0) vs Glamorgan

Sam Billings always seems such an upstanding, action-man type of chap that when it was announced he had got out of India ahead of most of the rest of England’s IPL contingent the thought occurred that his escape route from Delhi probably involved back-packing through Uzbekistan under cover of darkness, trekking WNW once north of the Caspian Sea and concluding the traversing of Europe with a cross-channel swim from Calais to Dover. More prosaically, he just got himself on a flight and no doubt had to suffer the petri-dish of Heathrow Arrivals like everybody else.

Whatever, now he is back. And what’s more, he is the first IPL returnee to leap the greatest hurdle of all – playing in the County Championship, a hurdle that for some (no names mentioned) appears to be more mental than physical. But Billings is captain of Kent, Kent are bottom of the table, and there is a rescue act to attend to.

Billings has had the sort of frustrating winter that these days is the lot of the elite-athlete, highly-regarded-and-rightly-so nearly man. He was picked in the last round of bidding by Delhi Capitals, but failed to start a game. He had an active time in the Big Bash with Sydney Thunder and a solitary England ODI appearance against India in Pune.

But at Kent, he is indispensable. He rejoins a county that finds itself 15 points adrift at the bottom of Group 3, the sense of a new beginning that surrounded their pre-Covid promotion to Division One under threat. His energetic presence is clearly needed and with a limited number of supporters back in the ground for the first time since Covid struck there was even a sense of celebration.

Well, actually there wasn’t a celebration really. The Championship season continues to be ravaged by appalling weather and play was delayed for five-and-a-half hours. A temporary capacity of 950 spectators who won tickets in the ballot was never challenged, and fell during the day to virtually nothing by the time the umpires surrendered to the rain that had been sweeping much of the country around 6pm.

If this weather keeps up much longer, hand sanitiser could be 2 for 1 in the club shop by September and spiders will have taken over the temporary bar marquees. It was a day to observe via the Live Stream. But worry not, High pressure is allegedly on its way.

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