Ben Duckett at peace with World Cup omission and looking forward to India series

By Sports Desk September 22, 2023

Ben Duckett has switched focus to his next duel with India spinner Ravichandran Ashwin after England’s axing of Jason Roy provided some solace for his own World Cup omission.

While established as an opening batter in Tests, Duckett is on the fringes of the ODI set-up and was unsurprised at being snubbed for England’s defence of their crown, starting in India in a fortnight.

Any disappointment was thrown into sharp relief by England discarding Roy, so crucial to their 2019 title win, and speculation is mounting that the opener could now end his international career.

Roy could be a reserve if injury strikes the main group and although Duckett has not been extended the same courtesy, he recognises the tournament might be a one-day international swansong for a number of England stars.

“I’m used to missing out in the white-ball squad,” he said. “It’s so hard to break into. You look at one of England’s best white-ball batters ever, Jason Roy, missing out. If he’s missing out then I don’t feel too bad.

“It’s really tough on Jason. But what he’s achieved in an England shirt has been incredible. I used to watch him and love seeing him bat. I’m sure he’ll score so many runs in whatever shirt he’s wearing.

“It just shows where England cricket’s at and it’s amazing at the minute but what that looks like in six months’ time, it might be completely different.

“I’ve learned not to think far ahead. These things will happen. They might not. All I can control is myself. That’s what I’ve done the last three or four years and it’s potentially got me to where I am.”

Duckett is vice-captain of a second-string England side facing Ireland in an ODI series, after which he will turn his attention to his next Test assignment in India early next year and a reunion with Ashwin.

The spinner terrorised Duckett when he was a budding international in late 2016, dismissing him in all three innings and leading to the left-hander spending the next six years in the wilderness in Tests.

Even if he is expecting another stern examination by Ashwin across a five-match Test series, Duckett argued both he and Ben Stokes’ England are a different proposition to what they were then.

“I’m certainly not going to get out playing as many forward defensives if I’m there,” he said. “It’s a chance to go and play a different brand of cricket, which I don’t think anyone’s done over there, which will be exciting.

“I will be working at it for the next couple of months but the obvious one is Ashwin. He’s going to get me out – he’s one of the best bowlers ever, especially to left-handers.

“I’ve got an opportunity potentially for the next couple of months to work on things. I’ve been thinking about it for a while now and trying to tweak little things.”

For now, Duckett is concentrating on the next two ODIs against Ireland after the series opener at Headingley was rained off. That means Duckett is set for his first home appearance in the format at his home ground of Trent Bridge on Saturday, when England could hand debuts to up to five players.

Duckett is set for a middle-order role alongside stand-in England captain Zak Crawley, with the pair increasingly flourishing alongside each other as openers in the longest format.

They are highly likely to be offered full central contracts, which would be a first for Duckett, who welcomes the prospect of multi-year deals that have been mooted by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

“It’s certainly not negative, it kind of gives you a bit of security,” he said. “I think it’s great that they’re offering these contracts.

“The security of players wanting to keep playing for England is perfect. For me the main thing is walking out and representing my country, it’s not really a contract but that’s a bonus.”

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