After two successive wins in the 2017 NatWest T20 Blast, the Bears face a difficult challenge against reigning champions Northants Steelbacks on Friday 14 June. Northants have a lot of batting strength in depth with Alex Wakely and Adam Rossington both dangerous players, but Birmingham Bears analyst Stuart Key thinks the man to watch is England batsman and Wisden Cricketer of the Year 2017; Ben Duckett.
In 2016 Ben Duckett had an incredible season with the bat across all formats, scoring 2,706 runs in all formats. In last summer’s NatWest T20 Blast semi-final against Nottinghamshire at Edgbaston, Duckett produced a spectacular 84 from 47 balls paved the way for Northamptonshire’s second title in four years. A lot has been made of Duckett’s batting style; he’s a left handed batman, while actually being naturally right handed, and his background in hockey is attributed to much of his 360° sweeping shot style. In short, on his day Ben Duckett is a flair player.
Recent International Form
Duckett was given his Test debut against Bangladesh in Chittagong in October after an incredible 2016 domestic season. Initially opening the batting with then-captain Alastair Cook, Duckett made a half-century in the second Test in Dhaka, which England lost, but that was to be his only score above 15. Struggling for form Duckett was dropped to number four for the first two Tests in India before being rested for the rest of the series, having endured some frustrating innings. While Duckett was not selected for the 2017 tour of West Inides or the home series against South Africa, you can rest assured at the age of just 22, we haven’t seen the last of Ben in an England shirt.
NatWest T20 Blast Form
In the 2016 Blast competition Duckett was regarded as one of the tournaments best performers, scoring a total of 477 runs and averaging 43.36 from his 14 innings. Duckett also found the boundary a whooping 71 times, scoring 64 fours and 7 sixes, and kept a strike rate of 141.54. These impressive numbers make Ben Duckett an incredibly dangerous player and one for the Bears to watch out for.
Ben Duckett’s downfall may be in his batting style, in 2016 season all of Duckett’s 11 dismissals came from right handed bowlers; 7 to seamers and 4 to spinners. Unfortunately the majority of Duckett’s dismissals also came in overs 14-20, by which time he had typically already scored his runs and contributed to the Steelbacks cause. It’s also worth noting that Ben Duckett was in the top 10 top-scorers of batsman in 2016 facing left arm seamers in overs 14-20, with an awesome strike rate of 275.00. With Ben’s unique and at times funky approach to batting the Bears attack will want to mix up their bowling to keep him guessing on where his next boundary is coming from.