Ben Duckett does not want to miss another minute of his England career after putting his long international hiatus firmly behind him this winter.
Duckett first represented his country as an up and coming prospect in 2016, playing four Tests and three ODIs in Bangladesh and India before falling out of favour as quickly as he had risen through the ranks.
Aside from a solitary T20 appearance in 2019 he was not seen again for the best part of six years, but has re-emerged in a big way in recent months.
He has secured a spot into both white-ball squads and also been handed the chance to lay claim to England’s Test opening position. With a hotly-anticipated Ashes series hovering into view, he is the man in possession heading into Thursday’s series opener against New Zealand.
The 28-year-old is intent on making the most of his chances, turning down a January payday at the IL20 league in the United Arab Emirates in favour of England’s low-key one-day series in South Africa and heading over for their T20s in Bangladesh as soon as his Test commitments are complete.
Test skipper Ben Stokes retired from 50-over cricket last summer after concluding that kind of scheduling was no longer possible, but Duckett is happy making up for lost time.
“My sole focus is playing for England. I won’t be missing out,” he said.
“Three or four years down the line, who knows (if I can keep it up)? But right now it’s about playing as much cricket as I can for England, it’s something I’ve been working for for five or six years now.
“I pulled out of a T20 comp just before South Africa to give myself some time to refresh, so I’ve already made decisions to give England everything. For me, this is my priority and I’ll be trying to take every chance I get.
“I’ve worked really hard over the last few years and I genuinely wasn’t expecting even 12 months ago to be playing all three formats. I guess that’s credit for the hard work I’ve put in over the last few years and I’m thankful that I’m here.”
- 7 Tests, 467 runs, 38.91 average
- 6 ODIs, 146 runs, 24.33 average
- 8 T20s, 242 runs, 40.33 average
In the immediate term Duckett’s job is to kick off the innings alongside Zak Crawley in the day/night clash at Mount Maunganui.
Back in December he scored one of four centuries on the opening day of what would become a 3-0 whitewash over Pakistan, as England smashed a staggering 506 runs in just 75 overs. He admits that record-breaking day, which marked his maiden international hundred, is a high bar to match but has not given up on trying.
“We’ll do well to go better than day one in Pakistan,” he said.
“But with this pink ball, in these conditions, it might be suited to going harder. Sometimes, when it’s tricky, you may see us go even harder.
“I’m in a position where I can set the tone. Opening the batting in Test cricket, there are going to be times where I’m going to have to respect good bowling. But the way I’ve always played is if people miss or people bowl poorly, I’m going to try and take them down early and try and get us off to a good start.”