Ben Duckett warns Australia's bowlers to prepare for Ashes onslaught
EXCLUSIVE: Get ready for an Ashes onslaught! Australia are incredible and have great bowlers to call on… but we’re full of belief and coming for them, insists England star Ben Duckett
- Duckett enjoyed a successful return to Test cricket in Pakistan and New Zealand
- But the 28-year-old is hungry to improve upon 508 run haul against Australia
- Nottinghamshire batter has been on fine county form ahead of ‘pinnacle’ series
Ben Duckett has warned Australia’s bowlers to prepare for an Ashes onslaught – and he wants to make up for a winter in which he believes he left too many runs out in the middle.
Despite that self-assessment, Duckett enjoyed a successful return to Test cricket in Pakistan and New Zealand after six years out of the team, scoring 508 runs in five games as an opener at an average of 56 and a distinctly Bazball strike-rate of 95 – quicker than any of his regular team-mates bar Harry Brook.
But he was frustrated by his failure to turn only one of his five half-centuries into a hundred, and can’t wait to take on Australia once the four-day Test against Ireland is out of the way at the start of June.
‘Australia are such an incredible side, but the way England are playing cricket at the minute, the belief around the whole country is that we can go and beat them,’ he told Mail Sport. ‘For me, that’s the most exciting thing.
‘It’s one of the best bowling attacks ever, but I’m sure they’ve never played when teams are coming at them and being as attacking as we are. It will be one of the better series to watch.’
Ben Duckett has warned Australian bowlers about the onslaught they will face on English soil
The 28-year-old was played an integral part in England’s historic whitewash in Pakistan
This summer Pat Cummins will lead an Australia side stuffed with a raft of fine bowling talents
Duckett has begun the county season in decent form for Nottinghamshire, scoring 401 championship runs at 44, including 177 against Middlesex at Lord’s. And his strike-rate of 74 is more than 20 faster than any of his top-order county colleagues.
But he now wants to use his experience as part of the revolution led by Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes to ensure he isn’t left kicking himself come the last Ashes Test at The Oval at the end of July.
‘I’m a cricketer who’s always very critical of myself,’ he says. ‘If you’d offered me that winter at the start of it, I’d have taken half those runs. But sitting here now, I feel I should have scored three hundreds in Pakistan, and I should have scored a massive hundred in New Zealand.’
Most players making their return after a long absence would have been more than happy with Duckett’s return: a run-a-ball century in his comeback innings in Rawalpindi, then a 49-ball 63 and 79 at Multan, 82 not out off 78 at Karachi, and a blistering 84 off 68 in the first innings of the New Zealand series at Mount Maunganui.
His personal bar, though, has been raised, and he was also annoyed to fall for 33 on the dramatic last day at Wellington, where England lost by one run after Stokes enforced the follow-on.
‘I believe I should have kicked on and won us the game in that second Test,’ he says. ‘But I’m very fortunate to be sat here and thinking like that, because that’s how I feel my game’s moved in the past few years.’
Back in the winter of 2016-17, Duckett had only just turned 22 when he played the first of four Tests on lavishly turning pitches in Bangladesh and India. He made a skilful 56 in Dhaka, but otherwise didn’t pass 15, with Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin making his life especially difficult.
Duckett’s last Test appearance -against India in 2016-17 – before his return was starcrossed
How might he have fared back then with the backing he has received now? ‘It’s a long time ago. Do I feel like I could have done that to Ashwin for a period of time? I don’t know. Maybe we’ll find out next January, when England tour India. The easiest way to answer that is if I’m selected. I’m sure I’d play in a much more positive way than I did.
‘I think I found that, just because you’ve got a slight weakness, rather than focus on that and make that 100 times better, maybe stick to what you’re good at. That’s my biggest learning from the past three years, and that’s why in Pakistan I went to the sweep as much as I could.
‘Rather than try to prove I can bat against Ashwin for 200 balls and get 20 runs, stick the pressure back on him and play to what I’m good at. But I was a young kid then against one of the better bowling attacks in the hardest conditions in the world, and it was always going to be a struggle.’
For now, Duckett is simply enjoying the prospect of taking on Australia. ‘I never thought I’d be able to play in an Ashes series,’ he says. ‘The amount I’ve watched – it’s the pinnacle of cricket. The 2005 Ashes was huge for me, watching as a 10-year-old, and if it can be something like that, it will be pretty special.’
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