Kent County Cricket Club captain Sam Billings is conspicuous by his absence at Canterbury’s St Lawrence ground.
He has swapped the uncertain weather of east Kent during the April pre-season for the glitz and glamour of the Indian Premier League, cricket’s richest tournament.
The 26-year-old from Pembury has been bought at auction for £110,000 by the Chennai Super Kings who start the competition today at the Wankhede Stadium against reigning IPL champions Mumbai Indians.
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Billings became Kent captain following the close season departure of Sam Northeast who has joined Hampshire.
He has previously played two years for the Delhi Daredevils, but admits some supporters are unhappy about him going to the sub-continent.
“I’ve seen a lot of angry Kent fans,” Billings said.
“The agreement Kent and I had, six months ago, about the IPL – months before I’d even talked to anyone about the captaincy – was about what price point I was going to put myself at.
“I’d done the two years on the lowest bracket with Delhi Daredevils. The experience was phenomenal.
“There was an agreement that if I get picked up, brilliant, otherwise it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I was very open to not going.
“I wasn’t naive to the fact that I had Shane Watson, Imran Tahir – those guys in my price bracket. I was very aware I might miss out. But the changing face of the world of cricket is moving rapidly and people need to be aware that these opportunities do not come up often and you can’t afford to miss the IPL.
“If the Test captain Joe Root is putting his name in the hat then surely people have to wake up and see.
“I can say that with the last two years for Delhi. I didn’t go there for monetary value, it’s being there to improve as a cricketer and getting the opportunity to play in front of 60,000 people.”
England all-rounder Ben Stokes went at auction for £1.39 million to Rajasthan Royals and will be the best paid player in the 2018 league.