England’s upcoming World Cup defense in India will have a host of players sitting in the reserves at home and Ben Duckett may be best placed to jump on a plane if a batsman is injured during the tournament.
The 28-year-old is an option somewhere in the top 7 and has a number of sweeps and reverse sweeps. He would offer Jos Buttler and the management excellent flexibility regardless of whether Jason Roy is available. The fighting will to keep going – which is evident in all formats – is another point that comes up in the professional column.
Runs in the second (but effectively first) ODI against Ireland on Saturday would be a good kick-start for all of that. Not that England aren’t already excited, promoting Duckett to vice-captain of this second team and giving him a first contract as a central defender after a strong year in the Test team handed over.
If a World Cup call-up does not materialize, Duckett will set his sights on the Test tour of India in January. He made his first attempt in the longest format there in 2016, but it was personally canceled out by Ravichandran Ashwin’s guile in a 4-0 defeat. However, he is keen to stress that both he and England have changed since then.
“This group of players is very different than 2016, and when I’m there I certainly won’t be playing as many forward-defensive players,” Duckett said. “It’s a chance to play a different style of cricket, which I don’t think anyone has done there before.
“I’ll be working on it over the next few months but the obvious one is Ashwin – he’ll get me out. He is one of the best bowlers of all time, especially left-handed. But I’ve been thinking about it for a while and trying to tweak little things.”
He expressed all of this by emphasizing that this would be “if selected” – and also expressed hope that an England deal would finally happen. Both appear to be a given and there is talk of a possible two-year deal for him as England now look to lock down their best players for longer amid the ever-rising tide of franchise T20 leagues.
“If that means I’ll play more cricket for England then absolutely,” Duckett replied when asked if he would sign. “That’s certainly not a negative thing, it gives you a little more security. (But) the main thing is to go out and represent my country, that’s not really a contract – that’s a bonus.”
Three England players could get a first taste of all that at Trent Bridge on Saturday, with Sam Hain, Jamie Smith and George Scrimshaw all in line for their debuts.