Kent captain Sam Billings recorded first first One Day International (ODI) century in England’s in vain effort to topple Australia in the first ODI at Manchester.
Billings’ final total of 118 was the first ever ODI hundred for England by any Kent player in the Club’s 149-year history.
The 29-year-old was the anchor of England’s tricky innings, after the hosts’ extremely slow start with the bat, their lowest total after ten overs of a one-day innings since Tony Blair was the UK’s Prime Minister.
Coming in at six, the right-hander, like his England teammates, found it difficult at first to cope with Australia’s bowling attack, reaching 11 from 29 deliveries, before adjusting well to the match situation and taking charge of England’s run chase of 295.
Billings forged a useful partnership with fellow ‘keeper-batsman Johnny Bairstow, putting on 123 runs together for the seventh wicket, before the Yorkshireman holed out to depart for 84.
Not Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes or Adil Rashid could stay in the middle with the Kent star, only Woakes reaching double figures.
Billings reached his fourth ODI half-century from 66 balls, before the urgency to get runs became apparent, and ‘Bilbo’ began playing a more expansive game through necessity.
As the required run rate became further and further from reach, Billings, despite being hit on the helmet twice, consistently tried to find the boundary – reaching his first ever score of 100 or more for England from 101 deliveries – including 11 fours and two sixes.
As England needed no-balls to reach their required target, Billings found the boundary in the final over, before holing out to David Warner from the bowling of Mitchell Marsh from the final ball of the match.
His new England ODI high score of 118 came from 110 balls, and dwarfed his previous best in the format for his country, where he made 67* against Ireland earlier this Summer.
The second ODI against Australia takes place this coming Sunday.