10 March 2023

Ben Duckett ‘solely focused’ on seizing every opportunity to play for England

10 March 2023

Ben Duckett is determined to seize every opportunity possible to represent England, insisting he can be a three-format player in an age of conflicting schedule demands.

Duckett is now established in the Test side and his duties in New Zealand ruled him out of an ODI series against Bangladesh, which started barely 24 hours after an absorbing finale in Wellington.

The left-handed batter is without any type of central contract so could have dipped his toes into the Pakistan Super League, having impressed in England’s T20 and Test series in the country this winter.

However, after a few days in Dubai, Duckett travelled to Bangladesh and around 48 hours after touching down and just a couple of net sessions, he was thrust into the first of three T20s on Thursday.

“It’s now the focus on I’ve got the chance to play potentially all three formats for England,” he said. “That’s going to be my focus for as long as I’m in the squad.

“You can play in all these leagues around the world in a few years’ time but the time right now, I’m solely focused on playing as much for England as I can.

“Don’t get me wrong, if I’ve got a month next winter, and I’m getting offered a lot of money, I’m probably going to go and play in it, as most of us would.

“I’d rather play cricket and especially playing in different countries and learning different things. But being able to actually make decisions on this is something I wouldn’t have thought I’d have had the opportunity to do two years ago.”

Duckett is back in the country where his England career began seven years ago, playing three ODIs and two Tests before a loss of form on the following India trip led to him falling down the pecking order.

He has grasped his second chance with appearances in all three formats this winter, with his latest showing a cameo 20 off 13 balls before losing his off-stump to Mustafizur Rahman’s grubber in England’s six-wicket loss, highlighting the downside of the quick turnaround from New Zealand to Bangladesh.

“I don’t think I’m the first one to get a low one this series and get out,” Duckett said ruefully.

“That’s the difference in playing in different conditions – that length in New Zealand sits up and you can whack it and then coming here, you can’t.”

Duckett, who along with the rest of the England squad arrived in Dhaka on Friday ahead of the final two T20s, has averaged 56.44 since being restored to the Test side.

He is clearly thriving under the transformational leadership of captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum and is almost certain to open the batting in this summer’s eagerly-anticipated Ashes.

“It’s almost like you’re playing a friendly, you’re actually going out and playing a Test match and it’s that relaxed, and that’s how you’re going to get players to perform at their best,” Duckett said.

“The big thing in that dressing room is whatever the noise is outside of that dressing room no one cares about. It’s everything in that dressing room and you’ve got that backing.”

England suffered a rare blip last time out, going down by a solitary run against the Black Caps, but even with the tension at its peak, Duckett revealed there was no shift in behaviour from the laid-back McCullum.

“I do remember at tea, Brendon said ‘let’s go out there and bat for a draw in the last session’,” Duckett added. “Obviously, he was joking but that’s just how relaxed it is.

“Straight after the game, we might have had a couple of words and then it was straight into playing (football) with the New Zealand boys on the outfield, having a few drinks.

“It’s just an extremely relaxed environment. Baz doesn’t say much, but when he does say something we all listen.”

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