England v Ireland, 1st ODI, Bristol May 4, 2017

Billings back from IPL to hail England 'buzz'

Andrew McGlashan in Bristol

Sam Billings has been receiving feedback on England's improved white-ball reputation at the IPL © BCCI

Sam Billings has returned from the IPL with a message: England's opposition are 'petrified' of them ahead of the Champions Trophy.

It has come from the horse's mouth as well: the international contemporaries he has been sharing dressing rooms and playing fields with over the last month while playing for Delhi Daredevils.

While it's unlikely that players from the other seven nations will be using quite the same word when they arrive ahead of the tournament later this month - it doesn't do to build up your opposition in public - it has been impossible to ignore England's two-year revolution from the timid, behind-the-times outfit of the 2015 World Cup to the power-packed side that is among the favourites for the Champions Trophy.

'The best thing about the IPL is you share a dressing room with these guys and previously in this country we haven't made one-day cricket a priority as such, but now people are petrified of our side and you only find that out by talking to them,' Billings said.

'It is very interesting to hear what other internationals think of our side. It's kind of gone full circle, people now thinking we have a seriously good squad. Generally there is a buzz around the reputation of the England cricket team in white-ball cricket - it's amazing to think about that transition from two years ago.'

Billings made his debut at the beginning of the revival, against New Zealand at Edgbaston in 2015, but has not been a fixture over the two years, building up just nine ODI caps despite being capable of eye-popping feats with the bat. If all goes to plan he will have two more by Sunday after being given his chance behind the stumps in place of Jos Buttler and ahead of Test keeper Jonny Bairstow.

Eoin Morgan and the selectors have said it is about using these two matches against Ireland as a chance to assess Billings as an international keeper - a role he has only done once for England, in a T20 against Pakistan in Dubai - rather than signalling a definite hierarchy behind Buttler in the white-ball sides.

'We haven't seen a lot of difference between Jonny and Sam with the gloves on,' Morgan said. 'These two games are an opportunity to have a look at Sam and in a very similar position to where Jos would play and he's more than capable of filling that position. These two games are a good opportunity to see. In the past I think his fielding has overshadowed his keeping because he's such a gun fielder.'

Billings is a wicketkeeper by trade, having done the job since he was 10, but Friday will be his first match behind the stumps since last September in a County Championship outing for Kent. He has spent the last six months flying around the world for England and other T20 league commitments, but his work with the gloves has been restricted to training.

'I'm a natural keeper as such, so hopefully I can use that to my advantage. I have the years banked with the keeping and hopefully it's like a duck to water,' he said. 'I feel in a really good place with where my game is at after working with Bruce French and Michael Bates, I'm very happy with how it's going. Match intensity is a different beast but hopefully I can continue with what I've been doing.'

When the squads were named and James Whitaker, the national selector, confirmed Billings would keep in the Ireland games he said Bairstow had expressed 'disappointment' at the decision but Morgan insisted it had been fully explained and Bairstow was content.

'He understands the position he's in,' Morgan said. 'It's completely different to his Test position where he's the No. 1 keeper. The dynamics of our one-day team are always changing and it might need to change in the lead-up to the World Cup so having an understanding and acceptance of it is part of the game.

'If you can't accept that as a player it hinders your development, potential and performance in the side so it's important he understands that. It's been explained to him a number of times. This isn't a straight second-keeper choice. It's an opportunity to look at Sam.'

When the Champions Trophy starts, neither Billings nor Bairstow are likely to be in the starting XI so they will be able to share notes on being the understudy.

'The thing we have with the squad at the moment - you look at the guys who aren't in the Champions Trophy squad - the competition for places is phenomenal,' Billings said. 'You can't get too caught up with lists or where you are in the pecking order.'

Whether keeping or not Billings and Bairstow are two fine batsmen not to have in a starting XI. Perhaps it's no wonder oppositions are on their guard.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo