(Photo: Getty Images)
By Paul Eddison
ENGLAND have churned through so many top-order batsmen this summer that it’s easy to forget we are just a year removed from Ben Duckett forcing his way into the reckoning, only then to be discarded after four Tests.
The Northants left-hander was a run-machine in 2016, racking up four centuries and 1338 runs in Division Two while still only 21 to earn a spot on the tour of Bangladesh and India.
After joining the long list of those unable to cope with Ravi Ashwin in home conditions, he was quickly replaced by the next bright young thing – Haseeb Hameed, for those who had lost track.
Nine months on England’s top order remains as muddled as ever, while Duckett reminded everyone of why he first got a shot at Test level by smashing 193 at Hove last week.
That’s not to say it’s been a perfect season for the 22-year-old, even he admits matching last season’s feats was always going to be a struggle.
He said: “I’m fairly happy but, on the back of last year, no matter what I do this year it is never going to be as good as last year.
“I look back on last year and I think a lot of people had expectations of me. It was a freak year and I don’t think I will probably score that amount of runs in the rest of my career.
“It was an amazing year and one I will always look back on.
“It’s been a long 12 months for me and it’s been flat out. Obviously, there’ll be times where you wake up and have to pick yourself up even if you are not doing well, but I feel like I have managed to cope with that.”
After managing one half-century in seven innings last winter, Duckett’s England chances have faded for the time being.
He admits he struggled against spin on the Sub-continent and has not heard much from the England selectors since the tour.
However, the desire to play at the highest level remains strong – even if his priority is with Northants at the moment.
He added: “I haven’t sat down and spoken about the tour at all really.
“It is in the past now and it is completely different conditions to what I’ll play any time soon so I just want to put it to bed and move forward, but it was a privilege to play for my country and it is something I will always look back on.
“I still have ambitions to play Test match cricket for England and if I can perform well at the back end of the season then that can only put me in a good place.
“Even if I had heard from England this summer, I’d know exactly what I’d need to do and it’s just down to me to try and perform for Northampton and hopefully one day I’ll get another call and get back in the side.”