T20 FINALS DAY: Batting star Duckett hoping he has saved his best until Blast!
The Steelbacks will certainly hope that Ben Duckett is saving his best till last.
And the player himself feels that could just be the case as he and his Northants team-mates head to Edgbaston for finals day on Saturday.
Duckett delivered some tidy shots in the quarter-final win against Middlesex, but was eventually dismissed for 29 before his side got home to record a seven-wicket success.
The 21-year-old has been one of the stars of the 2016 season, drawing plaudits from across the country after his heroics for the County and the England Lions.
Duckett smashed a superb 163 not out in a Tri-Series game against Pakistan A before an producing an even better innings against Sri Lanka A, registering an outrageous unbeaten 220 from just 131 balls.
Those displays were certainly eye-catching, and he has been in fine form for the majority of the summer, with his run tally now totalling more than 2,000 for club and country.
It is an incredible record, but Duckett is hopeful that the best is yet to come.
“We’ve got massive games coming up,” Duckett said.
“There is no point doing it in the group stage and then not being there in the final and doing it, so I’m waiting for that innings, and hopefully on finals day I’ll be there.”
Though he is still so young, Duckett already has plenty of experience.
He played for Northants at finals day last year as they battered Birmingham Bears in the semi-final before losing to Lancashire Lightning in the final.
And he said: “Hopefully I’m saving one of the innings where I’m 60, 70 not out until the end.
“Finals day last year I didn’t get too many, but hopefully I can be a bit more mature this year and try to save one of those innings for either the semi-final or the final.”
The fact Duckett and many of his team-mates have been there and done it at Edgbaston before could stand them in good stead.
And he said: “You’ve got to forget about the crowd, and just because there’s going to be 30,000 there or whatever this week I’m still going to play my natural game.
“I think we’ve just got to be as positive and I think because we’ve been there and we know how to play a finals day we’ve got to back ourselves.
“It’s different at Edgbaston. There’s 30,000 rather than 7,000, but I think as a squad we thrive on that and you know we love it.
“I’m pretty sure even though we’ve been there for the last few years we’ll still be the underdogs on finals day, but that’s how we like playing cricket and we’ll take on anyone.
“I’m sure people would have still backed Middlesex in the quarter-final, but we just play our game and we’ve got a great squad.
“The difference this year is that someone has stepped up every week and it’s not been the same person.”
Duckett and the Steelbacks have certainly revelled in the small club, big performances tag.
And they will hope to do it two more times, first against Notts Outlaws and then either Yorkshire or Durham, in a bid to bring home the trophy, just as they did back in 2013.
“I think it’s unbelievable (for the Steelbacks to be at finals day),” Duckett said.
“We’ve got a small squad and at the start of the year there was all that talk about us as a club.
“We’ve not had many games on TV, but we’ve just been awesome all tournament.
“We’ve lost a few games and not been quite good enough but when we’ve needed to win we’ve stepped up.”