The second article in our new series where we track unheralded and relatively unknown T20 players who have made a mark in domestic T20 competitions around the world and are, perhaps, ones to watch out for in the near future.

This article features 21-year old Ben Duckett – a left-handed wicketkeeper batsman from England.

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Who: Ben Duckett
Age: 21
Country: England
Role: Wicketkeeper batsman
Batting Position: Number 3/ Number 4
Batting Style: Left-hand bat
Team: Northamptonshire
Strengths Pressure Impact , Partnership-Building Impact Runs Tally Impact
Weakness: None as such.
Highest impact T20 performance84 off 47 balls vs Nottinghamshire, 2016.

 

He is known as an explosive southpaw, but interestingly, boundary hitting is not Ben Duckett’s standout trait in T20s. In fact, for most parts of his career, it had been a weakness. Instead, Duckett’s unique asset in the game’s shortest format is his ability to handle the pressure of falling wickets whilst still scoring a high volume of runs.

The said ability was typified in his ODI debut (ironic, given how both the formats are so different) against Bangladesh when Duckett made 60 off 78 balls. While he scored runs at a rate lower than the match norm, more importantly, he shared a 153-run partnership with Ben Stokes after England were in a spot of bother at 63 for 3.

Duckett shot to fame on the back of a stellar domestic campaign in 2016, especially in the Natwest T20 Blast where his team (Northamptonshire) won the tournament. Duckett was instrumental to his team’s campaign and produced a tournament-defining performance in the semifinal against Nottinghamshire (the highest impact performance of his T20 career).

Northamptonshire were struggling at 15 for 3 when Duckett (84 off 47 balls) and Alex Wakely (53 off 45 balls) strung a match-changing partnership. The pair were the only batsmen in their team to cross double-figures. Again, Duckett’s ability to handle pressure came to the fore but – this time around – he scored at a much faster rate.

As it turns out, Duckett’s Strike Rate Impact has seen a marked improvement during the last year. In fact, his T20 batting has risen to another level – Duckett’s Batting Impact has shot up by 181% while his Strike Rate Impact increased by 145% in the 2016 Natwest T20 Blast.

From a mediocre T20 batsman, Ben Duckett transformed into an outstanding one over the course of a season – much in the mould of Lokesh Rahul for Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Duckett reprised his T20 exploits in the County Championship as well where he scored 1300 runs (the most for his team) at an average of close to 58. In the domestic 50-over format (List A cricket), he was the highest scoring Englishman in 2016 with 891 runs under his belt – including an unbeaten 220 runs off 167 balls vs Sri Lanka A – at an average of 99 and a strike rate of 116.

While Duckett’s hitting prowess has improved exponentially in the last year, big hitters are commonplace in T20 cricket. Performing under pressure, however, is one of the most sought after qualities and with his improved stroke making, Duckett now ticks all the boxes as a T20 batsman. Throw his wicket-keeping ability into the mix, he should be an irresistible buy for T20 franchises in the near future.

 

 

Soham Sarkhel
Illustration: Vasim Maner