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HomeAustraliaBen Duckett warns Australia's bowlers to prepare for an Ashes onslaught

Ben Duckett warns Australia’s bowlers to prepare for an Ashes onslaught


Ben Duckett has warned the Australian bowlers to prepare for an Ashes attack – and he wants to make up for a winter in which he feels he has left too many runs in the middle.

Despite that self-assessment, Duckett enjoyed a successful return to Test cricket in Pakistan and New Zealand after six years out of the team, scoring 508 runs in five matches as an opener at an average of 56 and a clear Bazball batting percentage of 95. – faster than any his regular teammates except Harry Brook.

But he was frustrated at failing to make one hundred of just one of his five half-centuries, and can’t wait to take on Australia once the four-day test against Ireland is over at the beginning of June.

“Australia are such an incredible team, but the way England are playing cricket right now, the whole country believes we can beat them,” he told Mail Sport. “For me, that’s the most exciting thing.

“It’s one of the best bowling attacks ever, but I’m sure they’ve never played when teams come at them and are as offensive as we are. It will be one of the better series to watch.’

Ben Duckett has warned Australian bowlers about the attack on English soil

The 28-year-old played an integral role in England's historic whitewash in Pakistan

The 28-year-old played an integral role in England’s historic whitewash in Pakistan

This summer, Pat Cummins will lead an Australian squad filled with a host of fine bowling talent

This summer, Pat Cummins will lead an Australian squad filled with a host of fine bowling talent

Duckett has started the county season in good form for Nottinghamshire, scoring 401 championships out of 44, including 177 against Middlesex at Lord’s. And its 74 pass rate is more than 20 times faster than any of its leading peers in the county.

But he now wants to use his experience as part of the revolution led by Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes to make sure he doesn’t kick himself in the head at the final Ashes Test at The Oval at the end of July.

‘I am a cricketer who is always very critical of myself,’ he says. “If you had offered me that winter at the start of it, I would have taken half those runs. But sitting here I feel like I should have scored three hundred in Pakistan, and I should have scored a huge hundred in New Zealand.’

Most players returning after a long absence would have been more than pleased with Duckett’s return: a run-a-ball century in his comeback innings at Rawalpindi, then a 49-ball 63 and 79 at Multan, 82 not out on 78 at Karachi, and a blistering 84 from 68 in the first innings of the New Zealand series at Mount Maunganui.

However, his personal bar has been raised and he was also annoyed when he fell for 33 on the dramatic final day in Wellington where England lost by one point after Stokes forced the follow-on.

“I believe I should have started and won the game for us in that second Test,” he says. “But I’m lucky to sit here and think like that because that’s how I feel my game has evolved over the years.”

In the winter of 2016-17, Duckett had barely turned 22 when he played the first of four Tests on lavishly revolving fields in Bangladesh and India. He made a skillful 56 in Dhaka but couldn’t get past 15 otherwise, with Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin making his life particularly difficult.

Duckett's final Test appearance - against India in 2016/17 - before his return was star-crossed

Duckett’s final Test appearance – against India in 2016/17 – before his return was star-crossed

How would he have fared then with the support he has now received? ‘It’s a long time ago. Do I feel like I could have done that to Ashwin for a while? Don’t know. Maybe we’ll find out in January, when England goes on a tour of India. The easiest way to answer that is if I’m selected. I’m sure I would play much more positively than I did.

“I think I found that just because you have a slight weakness, instead of focusing on that and making that 100 times better, maybe stick with what you’re good at.” That’s my biggest lesson from the past three years, which is why I swept as much as I could in Pakistan.

“Instead of trying to prove I can hit Ashwin for 200 balls and make 20 runs, I’ll put the pressure back on him and play what I’m good at. But I was a young kid then against one of the better bowling attacks in the toughest conditions in the world, and it was always going to be a battle.”

For now, Duckett is just enjoying the prospect of taking on Australia. “I never thought I could be in an Ashes series,” he says. “The amount I’ve watched – it’s the pinnacle of cricket. The 2005 Ashes was huge for me, watching as a 10-year-old, and if it can be something like that, it will be pretty special.”

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