Opening batter Ben Duckett backed to thrive long-term in second England chance
Ben Duckett has been backed to thrive long-term in a position that has given England a headache for several years after grasping his second chance at Test cricket with both hands.
Since his recall late last year, Duckett has been the model opening batter for the regime under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, averaging 56.44 at an eye-popping strike-rate of 95.48 in five Tests.
Of the various options England have tried since Sir Andrew Strauss’ retirement in 2012, Sir Alastair Cook and Joe Root are the only other batters to have averaged north of 40 up top for England.
While this summer’s Ashes series will present an examination of Duckett’s credentials, his head coach at Nottinghamshire Peter Moores feels the left-hander has the technique and temperament to excel against any opposition attack.
Moores told the PA news agency: “Ben’s a dangerous player because of the speed he scores at and where he scores.
“He’s got that ability to hit the ball in areas that are hard to defend against and can be a real nightmare for the opposing captain, not just against spin – which he’s got a reputation for – but also against seamers.
“How he’s played for us in all formats in the last two to three years has been outstanding and he’s taken that form into England, which says that it’s his time.
“I expect him to do really well, I don’t think anything will change. He knows his game and a player like that is a great thing for England to have. I think it’s the right time for him now to be opening the batting for England.”
All of Duckett’s nine Tests have been overseas but he is set for his first appearance at home as England take on Ireland, starting on Thursday at Lord’s, where the 28-year-old made a stunning 177 in an LV= Insurance County Championship match against Middlesex last month.
Duckett is averaging over 50 domestically against the red ball since the beginning 2020, the year in which he “lost around nine or 10kg” as part of a fitness drive and hit the winning runs in the Vitality Blast final – 12 months after failing to get a single off the last ball in the semi-final.
Up until that point, one or two minor indiscretions had threatened to define the career of Duckett – who had his first crack with England in 2016, playing four Tests – but he has flourished under the tutelage of Moores after switching to Nottinghamshire from Northamptonshire four years ago.
The former England head coach said: “In 2020, he really moved his game forward a lot. He got a lot fitter physically and he worked hard at his game. That was a credit to him.
“He made some decisions about the sort of player he wanted to be and I think that was where he really started getting his talent out of himself.
“How he’s played from then on in has been somebody who’s stayed calm at the crease, played well under pressure and backs his own talent to come out, which we’ve seen time and time again.
“When he first came to us he had some tough bits to get through. But what he has done, like all good players, is they look to improve and move the game forward. He’s matured a lot.
“I’m absolutely made up for him. He’s worked really hard to get his chance to be involved with England, he’s done really well since he’s got in and what a summer to be involved in.”
Duckett was Nottinghamshire’s leading run-scorer in the Blast last year but is unlikely to feature much in this campaign because of his England commitments.
Moores added: “You’ll always miss him as a player because of his quality, there’s no doubt about that and whenever we get him, we’re going to really enjoy it.
“But we’ve got a lot of hungry, young players who want to get into that team and it creates an opportunity for them to come in and show what they’ve got and that to me is exciting.”
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