Billings, 27, was drafted by the franchise in last week’s Mini Draft in Dubai and although the team will finalise their squad in September, the wicket-keeper/batsman has emerged as a candidate to replace Sarfraz Ahmed, who will miss the tournament in Sharjah due to international duty.
“I might make him the captain because he is captain of Kent but we will be keeping some players under the scanner on who would be the right person for the job,” Bengal Tigers team mentor Anis Sajan said of Billings, who has featured in 15 ODIs and 18 T20Is for England.
“The advantage of having a wicket-keeper/batsman as a captain is huge because he can see the complete field and knows the line of the delivery from the bowler and batsman. When you see Jos Buttler play for England, he regularly gives advice to Eoin Morgan so that has the advantage. That is where Sam Billings has the edge and he is a person who we are considering.”
Billings is one of two Englishmen in Bengal Tigers’ squad after they also selected ODI and T20 opening batsman Jason Roy.
Their compatriots Liam Plunkett (Punjabi Legends), Alex Hales (Maratha Arabians) and Eoin Morgan (Kerala Kings) are all confirmed for the second edition. With more to be available in the main draft in September, Sajan is hopeful of adding more English talent to his squad having already roped in West Indian Sunil Narine, Pakistan youngster Asif Ali and Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman.
“We will be looking for more English players,” added Sajan, who is also known as ‘Mr Cricket’ due to his passion for the game. “There is an advantage if you have players from one country playing for one team as they blend together well. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that the players won’t gel but if the players know each other well, it’s easy for them to get together.”
With the tournament expanded from four to 10 days following the addition of two new franchises, Sajan admits winning their inaugural title will be even more difficult than 2017, where they failed the make the semi-finals.
While the first target is to make the last-four, Sajan was adamant that they will only select players who will be available for the entire tournament.
“Last time, we lost key players and that affected our line-up,” he added. “I only want players who will be available because if you saw the IPL, Rajasthan Royals lost Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler in the latter stages. I don’t want that to happen to us.”
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