Duckett eager to take his chance as England reset white-ball side

<span>Photograph: Nick Potts/PA</span>
Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

Twenty months and two days after the end of the Test series in West Indies that marked the start of England’s complete red-ball rethink, they returned to the Caribbean for the start of a new white-ball era. A new episode and a new hope – if not for the team’s short-suffering fans, who might have just seen their side flop at one World Cup but still have vivid memories of them winning another two, then certainly for those players who, for all their talent, had seen a successful side become a fortress, almost impossible to break into.

“It’s probably been the greatest white-ball team. What they’ve achieved over the past eight years has been incredible,” said Ben Duckett. “It’s been tough at times to not be able to get a go but we’ve got so many amazing players out here who have now got an opportunity to go out and show what they can do.

“I’ve been around and not around the white-ball group for the past however many years and I’m just buzzing to get a go.”

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On several occasions in India England fielded a side composed of players in their 30s, but on Sunday there can be no more than two. At 29, Duckett is the third oldest member of the one-day squad, but has played only eight games for his country in the format. He has never doubted his ability to consistently perform in white-ball cricket at the highest level, only whether he would ever get the chance. “There’s probably 15 or 20 players who can say the same thing – it’s as simple as it’s been impossible to break into that team,” he said.

For all the fresh faces dictionarists can rest easy: the opening encounter looks likely to be the start of a very gentle revolution. The process of renewal in a team that, despite the mistakes and misery of a World Cup campaign that ended less than three weeks ago, remains under the leadership of Matthew Mott and Jos Buttler is unlikely to inspire any neologisms in the Bazball mould.

“I don’t think there’s going to be a new approach because of how the World Cup went,” Duckett said. “If they won that World Cup, the same group of players might have been here. They had guys who were potentially in their late 30s and coming towards the end of their 50-over careers, so it seemed like there was always going to be a fresh start after it. We’re just a group of players who can go and showcase what we can do.”

Over the next three weeks, in three ODIs and five T20s on four islands, England hope to recreate in figurative form the journey their players undertook on Tuesday, from England’s wintry darkness to Antigua’s breezy sunshine. Only a handful of players are nursing World Cup hangovers – six members of the squad in India are available for this ODI series, rising to nine for the 20-over games that follow – but the context is lost on no one.

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“I watched every England game and it was tough to watch at times,” Duckett said of the World Cup. “I’m watching mates go out there and struggle. It was really difficult. I was playing with them a few weeks before, so it was tough. But we have watched how England have played over the past eight years and one bad five weeks does not define a team.

“If we can go and play how they have played over the past eight years, or even half as good, that will be an achievement. We know how they want to play their cricket and it seems the guys they have picked going into this, the young talent, they go and smack it for their counties and I’m sure they are going to do the same here.”

West Indies will not replace the 32-year-old wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich who, three days before what was due to be his first international appearance in nearly three years and 10 days after he was recalled to the squad, announced he was retiring from international cricket.

“We respect his decision to retire and appreciate it is not an easy one to make,” said their director of cricket, Miles Bascombe. Dowrich remains in legal dispute with Cricket West Indies over the reasons for his failure to be awarded a central contract in 2021.