Ripley calls on 'lovely lad' Duckett to become a Northants leader
Northants head coach David Ripley believes batsman Ben Duckett was hard done by during a difficult spell with the England Lions.
But Ripley has backed him to come back stronger and called on the 23-year-old to show leadership skills for the County during the forthcoming campaign.Duckett was dropped for the Lions tour of West Indies during February and March following a suspension for pouring a drink over the head of James Anderson in a Perth bar while on the tour of Australia in December.He was issued with a fine and a final written warning over his conduct as an England player after the incident.But Ripley still feels Duckett has a big future as an England player and feels he was unfortunate to receive the punishments he was given.“I thought he was hard done by in terms of how the winter panned out,” Ripley said.“From the moment Ben Stokes got into trouble, right through the winter Ben (Duckett) was a little bit in the wrong place at the wrong time.“He’s still developing, learning and growing as a person but he came back from that trip in a good spot - he wasn’t sulking. He was desperate to try to get back, score runs and show that he’s a good player.“The good news is that they haven’t put a line through his name because they selected him for the North v South Series.“I think given the winter they’ve had and the batting spots that still seem to be up for grabs, Ben can get his head down, score his runs and see where that can take him.”Duckett, who was banned from the road for 12 months in 2015 after admitting drink driving, is a key man in all formats for Northants.And Ripley added: “He generally gets himself in a scrape a year, an annual scrape, but he’s a nice lad.“He’s not a difficult personality at all. He’s a lovely lad.“He’s becoming more and more professional as his rise has continued.“It’s perhaps no coincidence that his more professional habits coincided with him scoring more and more runs.“He’s learning, he’s growing, he’s an international cricketer now and he’s obviously one of our better players so we need him to be leading from the front.“He’s not just a young fella, he’s developed into one of our senior players so it’s important he carries that mantle well and hopefully through volume of runs, he can push himself back into the national team.”Duckett was unable to feature in the North v South Series in March as he was forced to have surgery on a persistent finger problem that he picked up towards the end of last season.He is now on the recovery trail but is unlikelyto be fit in time to face Middlesex in the County Championship Division Two opener on April 13.“Ben’s going along on course,” Ripley said. “He’s tapped a few under-arm balls so that’s great, but that’s a long way from playing in a first-team match.“We’re just taking it week by week and hopefully this week he might be hitting some balls on the bowling machine.“Maybe the week after he may be having a net.“Obviously the crunch time is when he’s got to do some fielding so we don’t quite know how that’s going to go. “He certainly looks like he’s on course.“We were initially told it could be two or three months so there’s quite a discrepancy there because if it’s two months, it would be sensational and he might not be too far off the start of the season.“If it’s three months, there’s a big difference, but he’ll still be ready for the start of the 50-over competition.“It’s just about seeing how he is over time.”