England’s renaissance man Ben Duckett has heaped praise on Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum for transforming the team dressing room and has revealed that the current team environment is ‘incomparable’ to what it was six years ago, when he was part of the Test side as a rookie.
Duckett made his debut in 2016 in Chattogram and endured a very tough introduction to Test cricket. In just his second ever Test England suffered their first ever loss to Bangladesh in the longest format, and then that was followed by a wretched tour to India in which he was dismantled by the off-spin of Ravichandran Ashwin.
Six years on, Duckett, in 2022, made a successful return to Test cricket in the tour of Pakistan, and the 28-year-old, speaking to Telegraph Sport, revealed how the English players no longer feel the pressure they did six years ago.
“It’s incomparable, really,” said Duckett of the team environment in 2016 and now.
“The atmosphere that's created within the dressing room is something that, to be honest, I just never thought you could have in an England Test dressing room.
“Over the years in Test cricket, there’s been far too much pressure and it’s probably taken out a lot of the enjoyment. This dressing room led by Stokesy and McCullum, we just had so much fun.”
Against Pakistan, Duckett came into the side in place of the struggling Alex Lees and in many ways, he wrestled his spot back through the sheer weight of runs he scored: in the 28 first-class innings that preceded his Test comeback, the southpaw had amassed 2,111 runs at an average of 52.77.
But Duckett believes he was picked in the side as much for the brand of cricket he plays, as for the runs he’d scored in first-class cricket. A naturally aggressive batter, Duckett, in the aforementioned period, amassed over 2,000 runs at a strike rate of 72.
“That’s probably why they picked me,” Duckett said of his aggression.
“I generally look to go out and look to score runs. So it's kind of no different to how I'd play even if I was batting for Notts.”
The comeback to the Test side couldn’t have come at a better time for Duckett, who can already foresee playing in a home Ashes for the first time. England still have three Tests to go before the Ashes - two against New Zealand and a one-off Test against Ireland - but Duckett admitted that he’s already dreaming about a potential Ashes debut.
“That’s what I’ll be dreaming about,” Duckett said of the Ashes.
“The thought of potentially playing in an Ashes at home gives me goosebumps really, it’s something that I never thought I’d be a part of."