England’s Sam Billings, who spent two seasons with Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, has asserted that he wishes to emulate MS Dhoni as both captain and keeper.

Billings made an impressive return to England’s limited-overs setup during the first ODI against Ireland on Thursday. After a poor start in the 172-run chase which left England at 59/3, Sam Billings revived the innings alongside captain Eoin Morgan, eventually scoring an unbeaten half-century to lead the side to six-wicket victory in Southampton.

In an interview with Cricbuzz following the victory, Billings said that playing under MS Dhoni at the Chennai Super Kings was a great learning experience for him. The English batsman said that there’s “no better person to learn from” than MS Dhoni. Talking about his experience at CSK, he said. “I loved my two years at CSK. The success the environment has had consistently over the time is unmatched, really. Probably only Mumbai has been as consistent as CSK.

He said that playing alongside Dhoni helped him in his overall development as a cricketer. “(There’s) no bigger star than MS Dhoni in terms of my role that I want to fulfil, there’s no better person to learn from than MS Dhoni. For me, it was great to pick his brains and just enjoy the environment that he’s created there,” said Billings. “He’s a big Man United fan and it really helps (chuckles). He used to invite me whenever the game was on and we used to watch in his room. It’s just pretty cool to talk about cricket with him and just learn from him, to see how he goes about his business (in terms of) practice, games. For me as well, in my third year of captaincy at Kent, I think the most incredible thing is how he talks to his players — especially the young players. They have the utmost respect and trust in him, and he also trusts his people and allows them to really thrive in the environment. Asking him on the nets about what he would try to attempt against a particular bowler and just checking ideas around. It was really helpful for me.”

Dhoni has not played a game of professional cricket in over a year, having last appeared in India’s World Cup semi-final against New Zealand in July 2019, but the 29-year-old wicket-keeper attested that the former Indian skipper will be ‘raring to go’ when the IPL beckons next month.