Alex Wakely believes Ben Duckett’s England experiences will have made the batsman ‘grow up quickly’.
And the Northants skipper is hoping Duckett can now back up last season’s brilliant campaign by firing the County to glory once again.
Duckett delivered as the Steelbacks won the NatWest T20 Blast and reached the quarter-finals of the Royal London One-Day Cup in 2016.
The 22-year-old was also hugely influential in County Championship Division Two, racking up 1,338 runs in 14 matches.
That form led to an England call-up, with Duckett representing his country on the tours of Bangladesh and India.
And ahead of Friday’s County Championship Division Two opener against Glamorgan at the County Ground, Wakely said: “It’s nice to have Ben back.
“The year he had last year was phenomenal and now he’s got to come back and score loads of runs for us so he can be picked for England again. That can only be good for Northants.
“Ben’s been on two of the toughest tours you can go on in the whole world, so he can filter that back down to the rest of the players.
“It’s probably made him grow up quite quickly.
“He’s probably gone from a 20-year-old posh boy to growing up a bit more and maturing more than anyone else because of what’s happened to him.”
Duckett and Co will face plenty of stern tests in division two this season, with Nottinghamshire and Durham the teams to have dropped down after 2016.
And Wakely said: “Notts, on paper, should be the strongest team. They’ve got such depth and their international players should be available a bit, too.
“But that makes it more of a challenge and for sides like us, we want to compete against the best bowlers and batters.
“One of the things since I’ve been involved here is that whoever we play, we try to play the same sort of cricket whatever, and I think that will be the case again this year.
“Whether we’re playing at Trent Bridge or Grace Road, you’ll see the same Northants.
“Momentum is a big thing so we need to get off to a good start.”
Northants won their final three championship fixtures last season.
They did the double over Glamorgan and will hope for more of the same from Friday.
“It’s a shame we can’t prepare a bunsen burner (turner) like we did when all the wickets went to spin (at home to Glamorgan) last season,” Wakely said.
“We were going to do that same thing again, but I actually think there are some very good bowling attacks this year.
“Glamorgan are up there, Derbyshire are up there - they’ve got big overseas players.
“There’s a lot of good bowling attacks in division two and for those who say division two doesn’t attract big players, I think that’s wrong.
“I think Glamorgan will be a very good team this year if they keep their bowling attack fit.
“But for me it doesn’t matter who you play first. You need to get off to a good start because the championship can be very hard.
“Last year, we were a bit delayed and if you don’t get off to a good start it can be hard to claw back.
“You need to win a game early and because of the way the points system works, I feel differently about championship cricket now.
“I used to want to make us a difficult team to beat, but I’m not sure that’s the way to do it now. You have to risk losing a game to win it.
“If you win one and lose two, it’s probably better than drawing all three because of the points system.
“I would rather see us win more games of cricket because it’s usually the team who wins most, regardless of the amount they lose, that goes up.”