County chief Smith predicts a big future for Duckett

Ben Duckett has signed a three-year contract with Northants
Ben Duckett has signed a three-year contract with Northants
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Northamptonshire chief executive David Smith believes Ben Duckett will be knocking at the first team door come next summer.

The 17-year-old Stowe schoolboy has signed a three-year contract with the club which has secured his services until the end of the 2015 season.

Having built up a reputation as one to watch after excelling in the junior ranks and fresh from an appearance at the Under-19 World Cup, the wicketkeeper-batsman will arrive at the County Ground with high hopes.

And with Niall O’Brien’s expected departure for Leicestershire, the decks have been cleared to some extent for a push towards a senior berth, a scenario that Smith thinks will come to pass once Duckett has finished his A-Levels.

He said: “Ben will have every opportunity to progress here, he will have just turned 18 and he could have a big future.

“David (Murphy) is our first choice keeper at the minute and possession is nine-tenths of the law but if Ben works hard then he could force his way in.

“We’ve now got a good balance with the number of batsmen in the squad, we did have one too many, but now there will be the right amount of competition.”

With a relatively settled line-up in the four-day game, it could be the limited overs format where Duckett benefits from the state of flux that has existed for the past couple of seasons, a fact that Smith acknowledges.

“We’ve been poor in white ball cricket for a while now and the way ben plays could help us there.

“He plays his shots and isn’t afraid to try things and there might be a way in there.”

With Duckett joining Matthew Spriegel and Steven Crook on the books, the next phase is the search for an overseas addition, a task that could come to fruition in the next few days.

Smith added: “We’re waiting to hear from a seam bowler in Australia who we feel could do a good job for us.

“With these negotiations it often takes longer than you think but we’re hopeful that we’ll have something to announce very soon.”