Northants star Duckett set for his next big adventure

Hover your cursor over the Know Your Team section on the Islamabad United home page and a list of world stars will appear.
Ben Duckett is off to play in the Pakistan Super League (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)Ben Duckett is off to play in the Pakistan Super League (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Ben Duckett is off to play in the Pakistan Super League (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

And among the likes of Australia all rounder Shane Watson and Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq is Northants batsman Ben Duckett.

It shows just how far he has come during the past couple of years that Duckett was snapped up by the Pakistan Super League side to bolster their bid for the upcoming campaign.

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Wasim Akram is on the management team for the side who will harbour high hopes of retaining the title they won last year.

It all begins on February 9, with Islamabad, whose motto is United We Win, taking on Peshawar Zalmi at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

And Duckett, who helped Northants claim glory the NatWest T20 Blast last summer, can’t wait to get going.

“It will be really good,” said the 22-year-old. “We’ve got an exciting side so it should be a good few weeks.

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“(Kent and England batsman) Sam Billings is in that side so that will be nice because I’ll know someone.

“Then we’ve got Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Misbah-ul-Haq so it will be good to learn from them.

“I was in the auction while I was away and got picked up like that, which was nice.

“It will be a new experience and I couldn’t really turn it down because you never know with cricket, I might get to go back next year or it might free up other offers down the line.

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“I’m not going to look into it too much, I’m just going to enjoy it.

“Fingers crossed I will be able to get a few runs.”

Playing in the PSL is the latest step on an incredible journey for Duckett, who represented England in Bangladesh and India towards the end of 2016.

After scoring close to 3,000 runs in all formats during the summer, including a double hundred for the England Lions, Duckett was catapulted into the selectors’ thinking.

He impressed in the one-day series against Bangladesh, scoring 60 in the first match before bouncing back from a duck in the second game with a characterful 63 in the third.

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He then made his Test debut against the same nation in October, scoring a total of 29 runs across two innings as England won by 22 runs.

He made an impressive 56 in the second innings of the second Test, which England lost by 108 runs, and was given a chance in the series against India.

But in the toughest environment in world cricket, Duckett understandably found it tough, and after scoring a combined total of 18 runs across three innings in the first two Test matches, he was dropped for the rest of the series.

But Duckett remains undeterred.

“It wasn’t exactly how I would liked it to have gone because of how the results went, but it was still a great experience,” he said.

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“To be around the England camp, play with some of the best players in the world and learn from how they do things was an amazing experience.

“Looking back on it, I’ve had plenty of ups and downs and plenty of things I can take away from it.

“Playing in that standard is tough because you can get away with some stuff in county cricket but when you take that step up, you can’t get away with little errors. One little mistake and you’re out.

“The other thing is that the media is very tough on you when you’re out there so you need to stay away from that and believe in yourself to play how you did during the summer.

“You’ve got to take all the positives you can.”

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Duckett missed out on selection for the one-day and T20 matches in India, mainly because a couple of players, including captain Eoin Morgan, returned to the squad after opting out of the trip to Bangladesh due to safety concerns.

“People have asked me and I don’t know if I’m disappointed or not,” Duckett said.

“I’d love to play for England in the one-day stuff, but they’ve got such an amazing side and it’s extremely hard to break into.

“The reason I did play in Bangladesh was because a few guys dropped out of that tour so it’s not like I’ve been dropped from playing in India.

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“I got the chance and showed what I can do and all I can do now is score as many runs as I can for the Lions, in the Pakistan Super League and in England in April.”

Thanks to the wonders of modern techonology, Duckett has managed to keep in touch with his Northants team-mates throughout the winter.

And he will be relishing the chance to return to county action when it rolls around at the start of April.

“We’ve got a What’s App group for the (Northants) squad so we speak most days,” said Duckett.

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“I haven’t seen much of the guys this winter, but I speak to the guys now and then.

“It would be great to continue what we did in the white-ball stuff last year this season and be more consistent in the four-day stuff to try to battle with the sides in the top half of the division.

“It’s completely different conditions going back into the County Championship stuff so I’ve got to forget about the winter and think about what I did in England last year.

“There are some very good attacks in division two this year so it’s definitely not going to be easy.”