Eoin Morgan hailed Sam Billings’ ‘resilience and character’ after the Kent batsman hit an eye-catching maiden ODI century for England in the side’s defeat to Australia at Emirates Old Trafford.
The tourists took the advantage in the first match of the series as England fell to a 19-run loss on Friday eveing.
Billings and Jonny Bairstow led a spirited revival with a fifth-wicket stand of 113 after England were reduced to 57-4, chasing 295, but the latter’s dismissal for 84 came as a major blow to the hosts’ hopes in Manchester.
Billings – yet to nail down a place in the side – was in fine touch and produced an array of skills and shots in his 118 against an impressive Australian attack, with Adam Zampa taking 4-55 and Josh Hazlewood finishing with figures of 3-26.
And while England’s batsmen were left with an impossible task, Morgan was greatly encouraged Billings’ excellent innings.
‘It slipped away from us in the first 10 overs with the bat, they didn’t give us much to get away with,’ the England captain told Sky Sports.
‘We did reasonably well with the ball, we thought it was a reasonable score.
‘I thought Jonny and Sam keeping in us in the game for so long, if we kept that partnership until the 40th over we would have been in the game.
‘Sam’s opportunities over the last four years have been extremely limited and sporadic at times but to come in and show hunger in his training, it’s outstanding and it shows a lot of resilience and character.
‘When Ben Stokes is missing he leaves a big hole with the ball and the bat, we have a lot of players who bat in the top four four their counties but we need to add depth to those who bat at six, and Sam has done that.’
Billings was understandably delighted with his display but knows he’s still under pressure for a place in England’s batting line-up, with Stokes certain to return at some stage.
‘I’m obviously very pleased, but in a losing cause it’s mixed feelings,’ he said.
‘It is one of the hardest teams in world sport to get into at the moment. I think I’ve put too much pressure on myself in the past.
‘I’ve gone back to enjoying it and taking the pressure off myself when the opportunity arises.
‘Hopefully I can kick on and keep putting scores on the board.
‘I don’t think it matters how many runs I get, I know I’m only keeping Stokesy’s chair warm for him.’
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