Ben Duckett will not complain about Nottinghamshire role in build-up to Ashes
Ben Duckett insists he would feel comfortable batting at three for Nottinghamshire in the lead-up to the Ashes despite cementing a position with England as an opener.
The left-hander has averaged 56.44 in his second coming as a Test cricketer and his ‘see-ball, hit-ball’ mentality has blended nicely with the uber-attacking mantra preached by Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes.
Duckett is expected to have a tone-setting role at the top of the order in a one-off Test against Ireland at the start of June – which would be his first for England on home soil after nine matches overseas – before Australia come to town for an eagerly-anticipated series.
While he would prefer the same brief with Nottinghamshire when the County Championship starts next week, Duckett is unwilling to rock the boat after batting at first drop for the county in the last couple of seasons behind Ben Slater and Haseeb Hameed.
Duckett intends to clarify his role with head coach Peter Moores and captain Steven Mullaney but was adamant he would have no qualms if the status quo continued, a stance he says is backed by the notably laid-back McCullum.
“I’ve left it open with Pete and Mull,” he said ahead of Nottinghamshire’s Division One opener at Hampshire next Thursday.
“I don’t want to change the dynamics too much for people. I don’t want to be that guy. If I was batting at five for Notts the conversations would be different, but number three and opening is pretty similar.
“If I had a choice I’d probably open but I actually think number three is harder because the bowlers are loose when you get there. You get a few freebies when you’re opening at times. We’ll probably have a sit down and go through it.
“I spoke to Baz (McCullum) about it this winter and you can probably guess what his reaction was! He’s not really too fussed. As long as I’m happy he’s all good. What can he say? ‘Start well’ – that’s what I’m looking to do.”
The identity of Duckett’s opening partner for England this summer seems up for debate as Zak Crawley endured a forgettable tour of New Zealand in February.
England’s faith has not wavered so far but an average of 27.6 after 33 Tests leaves him vulnerable, especially with Jonny Bairstow set to add to the melting pot England have to choose from.
But whoever opens alongside Duckett, widely expected to be a shoo-in at the start of the summer if fit, may have to take strike immediately against Ireland and in the five-match series versus Australia, which the 28-year-old is relishing.
“I’ve always liked facing second ball,” Duckett said. “That’s where Zak is really good. He’s like ‘yeah, I’ll get down there’. I’ve done it a couple of times and done quite well but I’m happy to stand there and watch things.
“(The Ashes) gives me the shivers. It doesn’t feel real at the minute. The more exciting thing is, whoever that team is, I do believe we’ve got a very good chance of beating Australia over here. It’s going to be really exciting if I get the nod.”
Duckett was used liberally by England this winter with five Test, three ODI and 10 T20 appearances since last September. Despite playing in all three formats, he holds no type of central contract with the national team.
Duckett, though, knows the ball is in his court when the next lot of deals are announced in October.
“Twelve months ago, if you’d said to me that I was going to play all three formats for England, I would not have cared about central contracts, it was just about playing,” Duckett added.
“I’ve got an opportunity now to keep myself playing for England and if I’m still there on October 1 then I’ll get the benefits of having that.
“If I don’t get a central contract, it’s clearly because I’ve not done very well. It’s about sticking to my game, enjoying it and, fingers crossed, I stay in the squads.”
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