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News

Ben Duckett: Prospect of playing in maiden Ashes 'gives me shivers'

England opener may bat at No.3 for Notts, but unfazed about being ready for maiden home Test

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
30-Mar-2023
Ben Duckett enjoyed a prolific winter at the top of England's batting order  •  Getty Images

Ben Duckett enjoyed a prolific winter at the top of England's batting order  •  Getty Images

Ben Duckett says that the prospect of being involved in his first Ashes gives him "shivers", 18 years after being glued to the sofa as England reclaimed the urn from Australia in an epic series.
Duckett was 10 years old and already hooked on the game by the summer of 2005, but believes that many players in his generation were drawn to cricket after watching England's gripping 2-1 win during the school holidays.
"[I was] watching that series along with half the country," Duckett said. "If I'd been sat on the sofa with my dad with a chance of playing an Ashes however many years later… it gives me shivers. It doesn't feel real at the minute.
"The more exciting thing is, whoever that team is, I do believe that we've got a very good chance of beating Australia over here, and I think a lot of people around the country also believe that. It's certainly going to be watched by a lot of people and it's going to be really exciting if I get the nod.
"I was playing from the age of four. But that's a series that I look back on and think 'wow, that was incredible'. Maybe some other cricketers - Joe Clarke was someone who didn't really play [before 2005].
"I was fortunate enough to go to Millfield Prep [a fee-paying, private school] and play cricket there from a young age but for people who weren't as fortunate, that was the series for people around my age which was a real turning point for them and really got them into the game."
Duckett won a place in the Test side back over the winter, six years after his first taste of international cricket in Bangladesh and India, and made 508 runs in five Tests, including a hundred and four half-centuries during England's tours to Pakistan and New Zealand.
Barring injury or a collapse in form, he seems locked in to open the batting for England throughout this summer - starting on June 1 against Ireland at Lord's, in what will be his first Test match on home soil.
He looks set to start the season batting at No. 3 in the County Championship, the position he has filled for Nottinghamshire over the last few seasons, with Haseeb Hameed and Ben Slater likely to resume their opening partnership.
Peter Moores, Notts' head coach, told ESPNcricinfo on Wednesday that he was waiting for the end of pre-season before making a final decision. But Duckett is not overly fussed either way.
"I have left it open with Pete [Moores] and Mull [captain Steven Mullaney] here," he said. "I don't want to change the dynamics too much for people; I don't want to be that guy.
"But they've said they want me to be ready to play for England. So it kind of works both ways. If I was batting No. 5 for Notts, the conversation would be different. But No. 3 and opening is pretty similar.
I actually think No. 3 is harder, because in my opinion the bowlers are loose when you get there. You get a few freebies when you're opening at times. If I had the choice? I'd probably open."
Duckett was among England's busiest players over the 2022-23 winter. Only Harry Brook (41) was involved in more days of international cricket than Duckett (35) during that period - yet neither man has a central contract.
Duckett joked that the situation is worse for him than for Brook - "I think he's happy with his £1.2m he's getting in the IPL", he said, laughing - but remained phlegmatic about the prospect of forcing his way into the central contract list for the next 12-month cycle.
"Twelve months ago, if you'd said to me that I was going to play all three formats for England, I would not have cared about central contracts. It was just about playing.
"I guess I've got an opportunity now to keep myself playing for England and if I'm still there at October 1, I'll get the benefits of having that. For me, it's about taking it one day at a time.
"I've really loved playing in that England dressing room, especially in the Test team, and I definitely want to be a part of it in the coming years. Those kinds of things are down to me and no-one else.
"If I don't get a central contract, it's clearly because I've not done very well. It's about just sticking to my game, enjoying it, and fingers crossed I stay in the squads."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98