Steelbacks star Duckett returning to his finest form
Ben Duckett may have endured a slow start to the season by his own high standards - but the Northants batsman is well and truly up and running now.
The talented 22-year-old scored close to 3,000 runs in a stunning summer last year, helping the Steelbacks to secure NatWest T20 Blast glory and earning an England call-up in the process.
But after impressing on the winter tour of Bangladesh, Duckett had a difficult time against some of the world’s best off spin in India.
He was eventually dropped and though he represented the Lions earlier this year, the England door has not reopened.
Not only that, but Duckett started the summer at Northants slowly, only registering two half-centuries prior to the home Specsavers County Championship Division Two clash with Leicestershire last month.
However, that was when the batsman’s luck changed and his belief started to flow back through his veins.
Duckett delivered a fine century against the men from Grace Road and then backed it up in another four-day battle, at Beckenham.
He registered another century in that game at Kent and has since taken his fine form into the T20 tournament, smashing back-to-back half-centuries.
Duckett has been the star of the show for the Steelbacks so far, with David Ripley’s men having accrued three points from their opening three matches.
And the batsman has revealed he used memories of last summer to keep him positive during the tough times he had during the winter and at the beginning of the current county campaign.
“It was a crazy summer last year and one I’ll look back on for the rest of my career,” Duckett said.
“I’ve always got to think about what I did well, and that’s what I’m trying to do now.
“I’m staying positive.”
And he added: “For me, last year, I really enjoyed it.
“I enjoyed the pressure, the games on TV, finals day.
“I enjoyed the pressure put on me to score runs because if I did score runs and I got my side in a winning position, it was great.
“Winning finals day last year really meant a lot because I’ve been to finals days and not really contributed like I wanted to.
“I said before that day that I needed to contribute so it was nice to put in a match-winning performance in the semi-final (against Nottinghamshire).”
Duckett is a natural match-winner, as he showed in that recent Championship match against Leicestershire and in last Sunday’s T20 game at Durham, when he hit 72 in a six-wicket win for the Steelbacks.
“A couple of weeks ago against Leicestershire here, it was a relief,” Duckett said.
“It was nice to get it off my back and going to Beckenham in the next game I played with freedom and from now on I won’t have the pressure of not having got a hundred.
“I can play with freedom and just play my natural game, as I have done in the 20-over matches so far.”