England’s Duckett Dilemma


Firstly, yes that is a drawing of Ben Duckett!

Three and a half matches into Duckett’s Test career and we’re still not sure. Nothing new there with a newly selected England batsman. Duckett is exciting and he merits being here: 1338 County Championship runs at 58.17 this year demanded selection. Duckett’s full England career commenced in the ODI series in Bangladesh where he made scores of 60, 0 and 63. It was those runs that bought Duckett the opener’s slot in Bangladesh where he made 14 and 15 on debut followed by 7 and 56 in the second Test. His reward for that maiden Test half-century… to be dropped to number four in the order where he’s so far made scores of 13 and 5 in India and in-between was actually usurped by Ben Stokes in the batting order in the second innings of the first Test, a real confidence boost!

James Vince was provided seven Test appearances on the bounce in familiar surroundings, yet a top score of 42 doesn’t top Duckett’s 56 in alien conditions. Vince’s time may yet come, not all players take to the international environment like, well… ducks to water. You feel that Duckett needs a score in the second innings of the second Test though, not just because England are currently 352 runs behind and half a team down in their first innings but to keep his own career on the upward trajectory that it has been this year. England surely can’t return to Gary Ballance so soon after his axing and having had no opportunity to find any form or confidence but they may turn to Jos Buttler. Buttler has played next to no First Class cricket in 2016 but there is a sense that England want to provide him with another chance in the Test arena. His Test record (630 runs at exactly 30.00 with a top score of 85) is no disgrace and he has four ODI centuries to his name.

Duckett though is flying the flag for many in county cricket. Yes he was already on England’s radar and clearly he is not some journeyman pro but he scored more runs than anybody (In Division Two) last year and made the sort of ruthlessly large scores that 1990s Australian batsman would make. A Ben Duckett style match saving (Moderately possible) or match winning (Extremely optimistic) second innings century would surely earn Duckett at least three more Test caps. A second innings failure and Duckett’s Test career could be extinguished before the flames have really burned bright.

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