Kent star Sam Billings slams England critics for spouting ‘rubbish’ about Bazball and defends one of the ‘best’ Brendon McCullum

England’s Test team were recently humbled 4-1 by India in a five-match series, but Kent’s Sam Billings has fiercely defended Brendon McCullum’s side.

Since returning from Asia, Ben Stokes and co have been subject to a lot of withering opinions from former players.

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Billings thinks critics should lay off EnglandCredit: Getty

The visitors have been accused of being too reckless and not playing with enough care.

Throughout the series, there were a few collapses when England were in good positions, but there was also a lot of great cricket played, and Billings thinks people have short memories when it comes to this Test team.

Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT’s Josh Keeble-Wells at Kent County Cricket Club’s media day, he said: “I have seen a lot of rubbish talked about it in the last couple of weeks.

“People are emotional after India.

“It’s the toughest place in the world to tour. I don’t think anyone has gone there in a very long time and won.

“In the previous 17 Tests to Bazball, we’d won one Test, and all of a sudden, it’s the worst thing since sliced bread, when we’ve just been beaten by one of the best teams in their conditions.

“You aren’t always defined by results, but I think over the last two years, the results speak for themselves.”

Stokes and McCullum have changed the way England play cricket without changing the team too much

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Stokes and McCullum have changed the way England play cricket without changing the team too muchCredit: Getty

When you look at the statistics, you can see Billings isn’t wrong.

Since 2013, India have won 40 home Tests and lost just four. They have also now being successful in 17 consecutive Test series in India.

So the fact England could have probably won the series 3-2, based on the chances they missed, is a testament to how good this current side are.

McCullum and Stokes encourage every member of their team to play each situation as they see fit and Billings is a huge fan of the New Zealander.

The 32-year-old played for England under McCullum, and he has nothing but good words to say.

Billings rates McCullum very highly as a coach

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Billings rates McCullum very highly as a coach

“The best coaches I have ever played under are ones that are able to make you a better player and allow you to make mistakes but also make you realise that you need to improve,” he said.

“And Baz is absolutely one of those people. He and Stephen Fleming are two of the best coaches I have ever worked under.”

Billings hasn’t played for England in any format since 2022 and admitted to talkSPORT that his Test career was over.

But there are no hard feelings for the Kent star.

Instead, he’s full of praise for what the current England coaching staff have done.

Since McCullum became head coach and Stokes was made captain, England have won a series in Pakistan, came back from 2-0 down to draw The Ashes and beaten South Africa and New Zealand at home.

Prior to that, England couldn’t buy a win, so it’s no wonder Billings is a staunch defender of Bazball.

“Leadership has to be authentic; it has to be a part of you and not trying to be someone else, so it’s inspirational what those guys have done [McCullum and Stokes],” he said.

“Taking a similar group of players and seeing them transform and play a different style of cricket [isn’t something that happens often].”

Zak Crawley is one player who has hugely benefitted from a change in approach

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Zak Crawley is one player who has hugely benefitted from a change in approach

One player who has particularly blossomed under the McCullum-Stokes partnership is Billings’ teammate, Zak Crawley.

The England opener scored two centuries and five 50s before Bazball.

He also looked short on technique, and it never seemed he would last long as a Test batter.

But after a slowish start, Crawley established himself as a key player and scored runs against the best attacks in the world, Australia and India.

He currently has a further two centuries, including an incredible 189 in The Ashes and nine 50s.

Plus, his partnership with Ben Duckett has proven to be excellent.

And Billings thinks he’s the perfect example of how Bazball has helped England players.

“Zak Crawley, exhibit A,” Billings said.

“It’s amazing how much bad press Zak had previous to this generation.

“He was the best player in the Ashes and was the best player in India, so I think that’s a really good example of [what Bazball can do].”

Billings is an advocate of Bazball

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Billings is an advocate of Bazball

The reaction to England losing in India has been over the top.

As Billings says, it’s the hardest place in the world to play Test cricket, and the 4-1 scoreline doesn’t really reflect how close the two sides were.

There is a big summer coming up with two home Test series, so hopefully, everyone can take a leaf out of Billings’ book and calm down because this team can achieve special things.

For the full interview with Sam Billings head to the talkSPORT Cricket YouTube page here. Also, follow their X account for more exclusive content with the biggest cricketers around.




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