Sam Billings '100 per cent ready' to make England debut in final Ashes Test

Australia must decide whether to recall Head or stick with Khawaja after twin centuries in Sydney

Sam Billings has been competing in the Big Bash League for the Sydney Thunder. Getty Images
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Sam Billings said he is "100 per cent ready" to makes his Test debut for England in the fifth and final Ashes match in Hobart after the wicketkeeper-batsman was called up to the squad as cover for the injured Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow.

Billings, 30, was recently in action for the Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League Twenty20 competition, and is due to play in England's T20I series against West Indies after the Ashes series concludes.

Australia have already retained the urn after winning the first three Ashes Tests. The fifth and final match will be played at the Bellerive Oval in Hobart starting Friday.

The fourth Test in Sydney was drawn after England held on with a last-wicket partnership.

"I am 100 per cent ready if required, and I will give absolutely everything I can," Billings told reporters. "My game is in a good place. It has been in the longer format for the last three years for Kent.

"I have been playing consistent cricket and scoring runs. It doesn't really matter what format it is, it's more about rhythm, confidence and mindset.

"Like any side I go into I will try to make a positive impact on and off the field, in any environment I am put into."

Buttler, who will return to England ahead of the fifth Test, suffered a blow to his left index finger, while Bairstow batted through pain en route to a gritty hundred after being struck on the thumb by Pat Cummins.

Billings praised Buttler, Bairstow and Ben Stokes for their willingness to play through injury in the fourth Test.

"The three guys who came out to bat in Sydney with injuries, that's incredible courage," Billings said.

"It's exactly what everyone involved in English cricket is about – playing for each other and that resilience. There's a lot of inspiration we can take from that as a group, that character and over-my-dead-body attitude."

Australia have some decisions of their own to ponder as the hosts weigh up how to reintegrate Travis Head into the side following Usman Khawaja's stunning return in Sydney.

Head was ruled out of the fourth Test after testing positive for Covid-19, with replacement Khawaja scoring centuries in both innings on his first appearance for Australia for more than two years.

Head, who scored 152 in the first Test in Brisbane and was named player of the match, is all but assured of returning to the side, which means attention has turned to Marcus Harris and whether Khawaja could replace him at the top of the order. However, Harris has also made vital contributions in the series, most notably his 76 at Melbourne in the third Test to help Australia retain the urn.

"That was just a phenomenal performance from Uzzy," said Tony Dodemaide, the newest member of Australia's selection group. "Having said that, there is a lot of conversations to be had over the next couple of days. It's a very difficult one. Obviously, it's a great place to be when there's so much competition for places.

"I think what we also remember, too, is Marcus probably played the most consequential innings of the game in Melbourne. It's always a balance … it's very different batting at the top of the list compared to batting at five. And Uzzy said that himself. So there's certainly some challenging conversations for us over the next 48 hours or so."

Updated: January 11, 2022, 7:26 AM
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