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Focus is on the chance to play all three formats for England: Ben Duckett

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Last updated on 11 Mar 2023 | 03:44 AM
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Focus is on the chance to play all three formats for England: Ben Duckett

Since returning to the national side for the Pakistan tour, the southpaw has travelled to South Africa, New Zealand and is currently in Bangladesh

England batter Ben Duckett is just one of four players from his country to have featured across all formats this winter. He returned to the scene during the Test series in Pakistan and since then, has traveled to South Africa, New Zealand, and now Bangladesh. Duckett by his own admission says that he perhaps was not ready for international cricket seven years ago, when he made his Test and One-Day International (ODI) debuts in Bangladesh and India, but says that his sole focus now remains playing as many matches for England across all three formats.

Duckett was part of the side that lost by one run to New Zealand after following on recently. He scored a 13-ball 20 against Bangladesh in the first T20 International (T20I) against Bangladesh. Recalling his return to Test cricket, Duckett says that the atmosphere is very different in the dressing room with Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum at the helm.

"It's ridiculously different. The way that they make everyone feel is something that I never thought would be the case in Test cricket. It's almost like you're playing a friendly, you're actually going out and playing a Test match and it's that relaxed, and that's how you're going to get players to perform at their best," Duckett said.

"The first thing Baz said to me in Pakistan was: 'Just enjoy it, you're going to get a good run'. To hear that as an opening batsman before your first Test back makes you not nervous and you can go out there and play your way rather than looking for a score.

"And I think the big thing in that dressing-room is - whatever the noise is outside that dressing room, no one cares. 

"It's everything in that dressing room and almost you've got that backing, it feels like there's a squad of players now that seems like they're going to keep for a little while, especially while things are going well. Previously, you're fearing for every single game, if you get no runs, you might get dropped the next game."

With Duckett featuring in all three formats, he says that his approach does not change much when it comes to playing red-ball or white-ball cricket. "The one thing I've been lucky with is, because of how I play, it doesn't really change throughout the formats," Duckett said. 

"You see these guys who are whacking the ball out of the ground and then they've got to go and play Test cricket and it's a massive difference, where my mentality in all three formats is to see ball, hit ball. And now against spin, sweeping it both ways in all formats - and I've got the full backing from all of the squads.

"I've matured as a cricketer. It's realising what works for me, understanding what my strengths are. Seven years ago I might have tried to hit Shakib [Al Hasan] for six over long-on, now I know all I have to do is hit the ball in front of square leg and it's four runs," Duckett reckons. 

"The small taste I had back then, I was very young and probably wasn't ready. I think that comes with age and most batters are at their best when they get to the age of 28, 29."

With Duckett featuring regularly for England, it was the key reason behind opting out of T20 leagues, including the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL), despite encouraging many players like Alex Hales to opt out of the series in Bangladesh. After the New Zealand Tests, Duckett instead chose to enjoy his time-off in Dubai.

"I spoke to someone a month ago about people resting and pulling out of stuff," Duckett who has played nine Tests, six ODIs and nine T20Is, said. 

"For me, the focus is on the chance to play all three formats for England. And that's going to be my focus for as long as I'm in the squad.

"Don't get me wrong, if I've got a month next winter and I get offered a lot of money, I'm probably going to go and play in it, as most of us would. But you can play all these leagues around the world in a few years' time, right now I'm solely focused on playing as much for England as I can. That break I had was potentially a good thing for me, and it's made me so hungry now to take every single chance I get."

After succumbing to a six-wicket loss in the first T20I against Bangladesh in Chattogram, the action shifts to Dhaka for the remaining two games, starting Sunday (March 12).

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