Recent Nottinghamshire signing Ben Duckett has admitted that his past off-field behaviour hasn’t helped his case in furthering his career as he looks ahead to his first full season at the county.
A year after his England debut, Duckett was sent home from last year’s England Lions tour to Australia after pouring a drink over James Anderson’s head in a bar in Perth during England’s 4-0 Ashes defeat. Anderson later described the incident as “not malicious” and “a bit of a non-event”.
While it was generally accepted that it wasn’t a major misdemeanour, the timing of the incident – months after Ben Stokes’ arrest outside a Bristol nightclub and weeks after Jonny Bairstow’s alleged ‘headbutt’ greeting of Cameron Bancroft earlier in the tour – meant that he was subject to a suspension, a fine and a final written warning.
Speaking to his Nottinghamshire captain Steven Mullaney in his A Moment with Mullaney series, Duckett described that time as one of the toughest of his career. Duckett said: “Bar being dropped for England (after England’s 2016/17 tour of India) that was probably the toughest period of my life. Obviously, that was an incident where people can look at it however they want. Speaking on it a year later, I can kind of understand why I was punished.
“That was obviously a tough period for me. Every interview since it has been mentioned and I am more than happy to speak about it. It is in the past.”
Duckett, who joined Nottinghamshire from Northamptonshire towards the end of the 2018 season, admitted that the incident hadn’t helped his public perception and that he was keen to move on and show what he believes to be his true character for the remainder of his career.
He said: “I think the toughest one with me is, obviously I haven’t helped myself off the pitch and I get that it can be frustrating for people looking up to cricketers and I haven’t got that right in the past, which is why I think people get frustrated with me. My perception of me, the people that know me and cricketers around the circuit, I don’t think would say that I am a bad person.
“I am someone who cares about the game, now at Notts I will care about that for the next ten years or hopefully the rest of my career.”
It’s easy to forget that Duckett is still only 24. After a stellar breakout year across all formats in 2016, he won both the PCA Young Player of the Year and PCA Player of the Year Awards before making his Test and ODI debuts for England on their tour of Bangladesh.
Despite 2018 being a difficult year for Duckett – he averaged just 24.95 in first-class cricket – he still won an England Lions recall and impressed on their recent tour of India, averaging 43.75 in the two-match unofficial ‘Test’ series against India A.
On his England Lions recall, Duckett said: “It was a tough 12 months, I wasn’t sure when or if I was going to get a call, and when I came back from the franchise (Mzansi Super League in South Africa) and got the call from Ed Smith it was a lovely surprise.
“I wasn’t expecting it. It’s probably been my worst summer since I started playing, but the other side of that is that it shows the faith he has in me, that was a lovely thing to come back to.
“It feels now almost everything is coming back in the right space and it’s completely down to me now to get back to start scoring the runs I know I can.”