England duo Joe Denly and Sam Billings swap cricket for football to join Crystal Palace for a training session… before roles reverse and even Roy Hodgson has a go in the nets!
England cricketers Joe Denly and Sam Billings took part in a full Crystal Palace training session last week.
The batsmen are preparing to face New Zealand for a Twenty20 series and two Test matches.
Roy Hodgson and Joel Ward visited Kent's Cricket Academy - whom Denly and Billings both play for - which borders the Palace training ground.
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England cricketers Joe Denly (centre left) and Sam Billings (centre right) took part in a full Crystal Palace training session recently
The Palace boss got involved in the nets by feeding the cricket ball into the machine for Denly to smash.
Ward also on the bowling machine under the watchful eye of the manager and cricketers.
Denly, who was an integral part of England's drawn Ashes Series last summer, and Billings, who is Kent captain and an explosive top-order batsman, both have football pedigree with Billings once offered trials at Spurs' Academy and Denly playing age-group football for Charlton Athletic as a winger.
The duo were invited to take part in the Premier League club's warm-up game of 'rondos', where a player is placed in the middle of a group and tasked with intercepting the ball from the outer ring who are entitled to one-touch of the ball only.
Unbeknown to the pair, the game was a form of trial to ascertain their suitability for participation in the upcoming session.
The Batsmen are preparing to face New Zealand for a Twenty20 series and two Test matches
Denly and Billings did enough to impress the coaching staff and were duly offered the chance to take part in most of the full session led by Hodgson, where they were largely employed to receive long balls from the Palace goalkeepers, before feeding the central midfield players, before attacking play commenced.
'We may have passed that [first] test, but I'm not sure we passed the main training bit when the keeper was pinging it to me,' said Denly.
'It makes you realise - I thought I was a decent footballer coming here today - but I go away thinking rather differently!
'We play football in the warm ups, but this is different level. The speed and pace they play the game is phenomenal, it was great to witness.'
Billings, Kent Cricket captain, said: 'I enjoyed the session far more than cricket training! It's great always to see other sports teams train at the top level, there's always things you can learn from yourself.'
Roy Hodgson and Joel Ward visited Kent's Academy - whom Denly and Billings both play