IPL 10

Rishabh Pant is the guy to replace MS Dhoni in team India: Delhi Daredevils’ Sam Billings

Delhi Daredevils’ Sam Billings on the IPL, his equation with Rahul Dravid and what he admires about Virat Kohli.

One of the many English imports in the 2017 Indian Premier League season, Sam Billings has risen to prominence with the Delhi Daredevils this year, as he has taken up opening duties in place of the injured Quinton de Kock. The talented 25-year-old spoke to Scroll about the IPL, Rahul Dravid, Rishabh Pant, and more.

Q: This is your second year playing with the Delhi Daredevils. How has been the Indian experience for you so far?

SB: Any time you come to India, there is added pressure because there is so much passion about the game here. There is no other country in the world that likes cricket more than India, and it is an amazing place to play simply for that reason alone. It really does give you a buzz and every crowd, especially in T20 matches, is so loud and there is a very unique experience.

Another amazing thing is you get to play with and against the best players in the world, that too in foreign conditions, and it will only progress you as a cricketer. I already feel that my cricket has gone from strength to strength by playing in India on slower tracks. They turn more here, and each side is packed with leg spinners. It is a different challenge.

Q: It has been a bit of a mixed start for Delhi Daredevils, placed fourth with two wins and two losses. Can the team kick on from last year and really challenge for the play-offs or even winning the IPL?

SB: Of course, the target is to win it. We are not here to come second or just qualify for playoffs. We have had a few decent additions this year, especially in terms of the pace attack (Pat Cummins, Kagiso Rabada, Corey Anderson and Angelo Mathews). We have good quality spinners too. We signed Murugan Ashwin from Pune. Jayant Yadav has scored a Test hundred. Amit Mishra has tons of experience, and Shahbaz Nadeem has been fantastic in the three games he has played. He has been the pick-of-the-bowlers really. The whole bowling attack really is looking so good.

Last year was disappointing, of course. It was a very up and down season. I think this year we are far more settled. The balance of the side is really good with a lot of experience and exuberance of youth in the right amount. The key is how we function together as teammates. If you look back, we should have won the first game against Royal Challengers Bangalore. We were ahead for 90 percent of that game, and just didn’t get across the line. After that we have been going from strength to strength (despite the loss against Kolkata Knight Riders), and it is about improving as we progress. I think we can cause a real stir in this competition this year.

Q: You spoke about mixing with experienced international stars. Can you expand on that, say, about working with someone like Rahul Dravid or any other overseas players?

SB: I hail from Kent, and it is the county I played for back home in England. Rahul Dravid played for Kent and he scored a lot of runs there. I used to watch him as a kid. So it is just brilliant being able to work closely with him and learn so much about the game. I can say he has helped me in this or that technical aspect, but it is very tough to put a finger on it on any particular day because this T20 format evolves so quickly with time. So you find yourself in different situations.

I think this is where someone like Dravid helps the most. You might have done well or had a bad day at the office, but you can just go over and talk to him, or even Paddy Upton. You can see how they react and it helps you through it. The amazing thing about Dravid is that he is a very level headed individual, irrespective of whatever happens. He is very calm. I think that is the quality I want to take with me.

Q: And international stars?

SB: It’s a boring answer – AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli. These are two very common names, but it is testament to what they have done and achieved. I idolise AB in whatever he does, and was able to get in touch with him with JP Duminy’s help last year. We have kept in touch constantly, and we talk about the mental aspect of the game. Look at how simple he keeps it. It comes easier to him than me and the way he talks about the game, he is very chilled out and relaxed. But there is a method to his madness.

Then there is Virat too. I admire what he has done, not only for himself but for cricket in India. He is changing the face of cricket in this country, especially with the fitness aspect. He is helping make the players here fitter. Without the IPL, you wouldn’t have this sort of opportunity to interact with them, whether for young Indian players or me. It is phenomenal.

Q: Do you think this young bunch of cricketers, yourself included, can drive Delhi Daredevils forward?

SB: Yes, I get on very well with them. For example, Karun Nair, he is a really good friend of mine from last year. Look how well he has done with that triple hundred. It came against England unfortunately. Shreyas Iyer has a double hundred against Australia. Sanju Samson got that hundred in Pune and his knock speaks for itself.

And then there is Rishabh Pant, who without doubt is the best young player I have ever seen. He is phenomenal, both as a batsman and a keeper, just looking at the way he has done in these first few games. He was standing up to the stumps, almost Dhoni-esque. There is no doubt in my mind that once MS Dhoni hangs his boots, Pant is the guy (to replace him). Big words I know, but you just see him and it is there.

The first time I saw him at training was last year, in a squad game. Nathan Coulter-Nile and Chris Morris were bowling, and he was hitting them to the top tier of the Kotla. And I remember thinking, “Jesus, this guy is 19”?

So overall we have an abundance of talent, but we have to get consistency. As young players, we are not going to be consistent all the time. But if we can dovetail together, say Samson’s day the other game, someone else’s day after that, etc., then we can push on in this season.

Q: Last but not the least, you are opening the innings this season. Does this entail more responsibility for you?

SB: As one of the older batsmen in that young Delhi top-order, or even as an overseas batsman filling the pretty big boots of Quinton de Kock, there is a bit more responsibility. In T20 cricket, I think, the (real) responsibility is more towards the end of an innings, when you are that guy to win the game in that pressure situation. At the top, you have to set a kind of platform, but it is different from taking the game to the last over when it is you versus the bowler. That head-to-head match-up is pretty exciting.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

The best preparation for business school from Harvard Business School

Get ready for your MBA, wherever you are going.

Getting accepted to a top-tier B-school seems like an achievement, which it is, but it’s only the beginning. The real grind comes after, once the program has begun. The very aspects that make an MBA education so valuable – high caliber classmates, a variety of business subjects, highly skilled and demanding professors, massive amounts of learning – also make it challenging. Additionally, the pace of learning can seem daunting. A preparatory course that teaches the fundamentals of business can alleviate the pressure and set students up for success. It can also help students make the most of their time at B-school, learning from all stimuli rather than struggling to catch up with the basics.

CORe (Credential of Readiness), a program offered by HBX, the online learning platform of Harvard Business School (HBS), does exactly this. CORe offers a comprehensive portfolio of essential preparatory courses in Accounting, Analytics, and Economics – grounded in real world problem solving and delivered via a highly-engaging online platform, to make business school aspirants ‘MBA-ready’.

Is it for you? 

Entrants to MBA programs come from diverse educational backgrounds and work experience. The difference between what an engineer, doctor, lawyer, commerce graduate, humanities graduate or chartered accountant studies is huge. Yet, in B-school, they are taught in one class and compete on the same turf. The CORe program is for students / professionals who may have never learned, or don’t feel at home with, business fundamentals. It is also valuable for people who have studied business but perhaps need a refresher before stepping back into a classroom environment.

Designed as a primer, CORe integrates the essential aspects of business thinking into three courses – ‘Business Analytics’, ‘Economics for Managers’ and ‘Financial Accounting’. These are the three classes that Harvard Business School faculty determined were essential to success in an MBA program and in the business world. Business Analytics, for example, trains students in quantitative methods used to analyze data. This is especially useful for students from humanities courses or professional courses that had limited application of mathematics, statistics and quantitative concepts. Delving into areas such as describing and summarizing data, sampling and estimation, hypothesis testing and regression, it initiates students into the MBA mode of applying mathematical and statistical principles to understanding and solving real life business situations.

HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program
HBX Platform | Courses offered in the HBX CORe program

Economics is the foundation of several business aspects such as customer demand, supplier cost, pricing, market dynamics, and competition. Through the Economics for Managers course, students learn to not only understand economic principles, but also use economics as a way of thinking and decision-making, in the context of business. Prof. Bharat Anand, Faculty Chair, HBX says, “We want to have you see and appreciate where and how companies get it right, where they use economic logic in powerful ways, and where they can sometimes fall into decision-making traps. This is a course that we, at HBS, want every one of our students to master before they enter our MBA program.”

The third course, Financial Accounting, is designed for students who do not have a business or accounting background. It teaches financial accounting, the backbone of all businesses, from the ground up. Students need a strong understanding of financial statements even for subjects such as Operations Management and Strategy. Since the course is taught through the case-based method with real business scenarios rather than plain theory, it can be a real eye-opener. Says Amita Metkari, Mechanical Engineer, looking to pursue an MBA, “The CORe platform is riveting. Cogent design and presentation of the platform has helped me get over my bias of subjects like accounting being dull, so much so that reading articles online about a company’s cash flow statements or analyzing a balance sheet has become my happiness fix.”

The HBS teaching method using a powerful virtual learning platform  

HBX blends the tenets of the HBS classroom pedagogy with the power of technology to offer immersive and challenging self-paced learning experiences through its interactive virtual learning platform. What makes it fun and effective is that the platform and the courses are designed for real-world problem-solving, active learning, and social learning.

Real-world business scenarios are posed to students to solve, and they learn the theory inductively. Students have real profiles and get to know their classmates, as the platform enables peer-to-peer networking and collaborative learning. Frequent reflections and interactive activities necessitate attentiveness and encourage knowledge sharing and active discussion between students. While HBX courses are self-paced; participants are required to meet weekly deadlines. This helps keep the cohort, a class of typically 300 students, on track and supports the social elements of the learning experience.


CORe is offered throughout the year with durations ranging from 8 to 17 weeks. Each program length teaches the same content, but allows students to choose the time intensity that suits them. Applicants can also choose cohorts that provide the credit option of CORe, which will earn them eight undergraduate credits from Harvard Extension School or Harvard Summer School. Upon successful completion of the program, including passing an in-person final exam, students receive a Credential of Readiness from HBX and Harvard Business School. Students may also receive an official-grade transcript, and are invited to the annual on-campus HBX ConneXt event to meet peers from around the world, hear from faculty, and experience the HBS campus near Cambridge. Applicants to Harvard Business School can include CORe course credential in the application, but this will be considered in the larger context of a holistic selection process.

Interested candidates submit a free, 10-15-minute application by the deadlines noted on the HBX website. For more information and frequently asked questions, please review the HBX website.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of HBX and not by the Scroll editorial team.