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Duckett eager to make his promise pay

The last couple of weeks, according to Ben Duckett, have seen "lots of dinners and celebrating", to the extent that he has not had a moment to pause for thought about his imminent England debut.

That debut seemed closer the moment that England touched down in Bangladesh and, a couple of hours later, the team coach pulled into a Dhaka hotel under the sort of heavy security that will be a daily feature of the tour in response to a terrorist atrocity in the capital three months ago.

On Friday, Duckett seems set to replace Alex Hales in the first ODI against Bangladesh. Later in the month, he will battle another newcomer, Haseeb Hameed, for the right to open with Alastair Cook in the two Test matches.

The recent celebrations have been for a raft of end of season awards - from his club Northamptonshire, the Cricket Writers' Club and the PCA, where he did an unprecedented double - but really they have been coming all summer.

It was a remarkable season which began with an unbeaten 282 against Sussex (only rain prevented him reaching 300 and he is quick to quip that "I blame the groundsman a bit, but I'll take the red ink") and which never let up: two more double-tons would follow, including 220 not out against Sri Lanka A for England Lions. There were another two Championship tons, as well as 163 against Pakistan A, a One-Day Cup century, and a starring role on Northants' Finals Day fairytale in the NatWest Blast. In all, there were 2,706 reasons to celebrate.

"That innings against Sussex was something I didn't believe I could do in my whole career," Duckett reflected, "so to start the season off like that against a good attack did give me that belief that I could score big, big hundreds. If you start badly, it can be a tough summer. But I was in good form early on and tried to continue it throughout."

Continue it throughout he did, bookending his season with 208 against Kent in the penultimate game. Now, he has time to consider international cricket.

Daunted does not seem to be a word in Duckett's dictionary. "Being here now tops it off," he said. "Hopefully people know I'm a relaxed guy, and even if I am worried I'll tell myself that I'm not. There are a couple of guys resting for this tour and there are available spots, but I'm not expecting anything. I'm on an England tour at the age of 21, I'm very happy, so I'll take whatever I can get."

When collecting his CWC Young Player of the Year award last week, Duckett drew laughs when he referred to "that little period between 100 and 150". If it sounds like a witticism, it isn't - it is a display of Duckett's insatiable appetite for runs. The smallest of his four Championship tons was 185, and his 1338 red-ball runs were scored at a strike rate of 79.45. That is something that will not change.

"That sounded bad," he smiled, "but a lot of people get 100 and get out, so it's important to concentrate, get through that period to 150 then the pressure is off, the fielders are all out, and you can just knock it around. That period after reaching 100, bowlers see that as an opportunity as they might nick you off, and I found that if I could get away again, they would start trying to bowl against the other guy."

All Duckett's achievements this summer - which are outrageous, really, for a cricketer not 22 until halfway through this tour - suggest a player to the manner born. But it really has not been that simple. It is not yet three years since he was banished from an England Under-19 tour he was captaining for poor fitness, while last summer he received a ban for drink-driving.

"I definitely haven't made things easy for myself over the last few years. I have matured and am trying to let the cricket do the talking. These days I make sure I do all the simple things off the field - turning up on time etc. On the field, I've just got to keep scoring runs and only positive things will be said.

"I was 17, 18, just finishing school going into the world of professional cricket. It was very different for me, I was in a different world from my mates who I was hanging around with, but now I'm head down and focused on cricket."

Northants' coach David Ripley gave him an opporttunity at the top of the order whilst encouraging him to remain true to his adventurous inclindations. "At times in the past I've tried to be a player that I'm not, which is why I haven't been successful. This year I played with freedom. Rips told me to play my game - at times that won't come off, but when it does, cash in and that has been the main thing for me this year."

And now he knows his natural game, will he adjust for the top level? Duckett's not for changing: "If I do get that chanceā€¦ the way I score runs is playing attackingly so I don't see why I'd change to be a blocker and bat all day. There will be times that I'll need to adapt to do that, but generally I'll play the way I have played to get here."