Rob Johnson discovers that the England batsman is not making major changes to his technique
The Northants man reveals his plans for an England comeback
As far as one-day cricket is going, I’m fairly happy at the moment. There’s no real technical stuff that I’m working on
It is clear that Ben Duckett doesn’t want to dwell on his winter with England. It started promisingly with his Test debut and some excellent one-day performances in Bangladesh but rather fizzled out in India.
He was dropped after the second Test of the five-match series and not picked for the one-day tour. Clearly frustrated but also bullish, Duckett is now firmly concentrating on the future.
“What’s happened this winter isn’t really relevant when you go back to England and those conditions,” Duckett told The Cricket Paper.
“It’s completely different. If I go to Australia, South Africa, India, you have to adapt to those situations. I’ll forget about what happened this winter and remember what exactly I did last summer that was the reason for my success.”
Off-spinner Ravi Ashwin dismissed Duckett in each of his three Test innings in India, bowling round the wicket, aiming the ball on middle and leg and turning it away from the left-hander.
Another off-spinner, Mehedi Hassan, dismissed Duckett twice in the two Tests in Bangladesh although the Northants man did score a half-century in the second match. Technically, there seemed to be a flaw in his approach, planting his front foot outside the line of leg stump, exposing his stumps and outside edge.
When asked about the difficulties he faced in the Sub-continent, Duckett said: “The main difference is that it obviously turns whereas in England it doesn’t turn very much.
“When you’re facing world-class spinners in their conditions, it’s always going to be very difficult. I faced spin all last summer and played it fairly well but at the end of the day, in India, the ball turns sideways so it’s completely different.
“I’ve been on a fair few tours there before but, obviously at the top level, it’s very tough in those conditions. It was an extremely tough first tour to go on. It was full of ups and downs but, looking back now, I’m not going to think too much into the cricket, but touring with England was an amazing experience.
“Fingers crossed, I’ll get another chance in the future.”
Duckett cuts a frustrated figure. Reluctant to concede he is making any technical changes – “Not really, I’ve had a few weeks off” – he still firmly believes in his own method and gives a good impression of almost not caring about what has gone before.
Was he ready for a Test debut? One county captain believes that Duckett is a promising player but was always likely to take longer to adjust to Test cricket than Haseeb Hameed or Keaton Jennings because he plies his trade in Division Two of the Championship.
The weaker bowling attacks can’t replicate the intensity or consistency of Test match bowlers.
Before Duckett, 22, is written off, it should be remembered that he was last year’s PCA Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year and scored over 2,700 runs in all cricket last season.
He is a fine young talent and, arguably, should have been in India with England’s ODI squad after two half centuries from three innings in Bangladesh. His Test chance will come again.
For now, Duckett is looking ahead to the challenges of the next few months with Islamabad United in the Pakistan Super League, the England Lions in Sri Lanka and then Northants. He has also been selected in the MCC squad to play Middlesex in the four-day curtain-raiser to the county season in Abu Dhabi.
Duckett still hopes to be considered for this summer’s Champions Trophy. To that end, he won’t play for the Lions in their two four-day matches against Sri Lanka A this month but will work on his one-day skills in the PSL before joining up with the Lions for their five-game one-day series.
He will not, however, be joining the IPL auction in order to make himself available for the start of Northants’ Championship season.
“If I was asked to go to any of the T20 competitions, I’d normally say yes,” said Duckett. “This year, with the IPL clashing with the English summer, I don’t think I’ll be going in to the auction because I want to get as many runs under my belt in England with all the cricket that’s coming up. But if there was an option to go the Big Bash next winter, I’d definitely go out there.
“As far as my one-day cricket is going, I’m fairly happy at the moment. There’s no real technical stuff I’m working on. All I can do is score as many runs as I can for the Lions, in the PSL and in the 50-over competition at the start of the summer, try to win some games to keep knocking on that door.”
Ups and downs: Ben Duckett, left, hits out during the ODI series against Bangladesh but, right, struggles in the first-class game on the Indian leg of the tour