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Duckett fit and firing for World Cup

Ben Duckett spoke to ecb.co.uk as England finished their preparations for the U19 World Cup

Ben Duckett is looking forward to next month's Under-19 World Cup after putting his fitness issues behind him.

The Northamptonshire wicketkeeper missed out on the England U19 tour of the United Arab Emirates before Christmas for failing to meet 'minimum fitness standards'.

But rather than sulking into his Christmas pudding, Duckett underwent a vigorous fitness regime to ensure he was available to selection for the U19 World Cup.

The hard work paid off and Duckett was included in the 15-man squad which will fly to the UAE on Saturday morning.

"I see it as a real positive," Duckett told ecb.co.uk.

Ben Duckett tries out a reverse-sweep during an England Under-19 net session last summer

"I think it was good for me because I wasn't at my fittest and not training as hard as a I could.

"I worked every single day whilst they were away, trained really hard and managed to get back on.

"Coming from school to being a professional, it came to me a later than it should have done. I have told the coaches I'm glad it happened and I'm absolutely chuffed to be back in."

England will start the tournament on Valentine's Day when they meet hosts UAE before taking on Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

Although England will be huge favourites to win their opening group game, they will be wary of an opponent that shocked them in the tri-series at the end of last year.

Chasing England's 250 for nine, the UAE registered a famous three-wicket victory in the final over.

"Their batting is fairly strong and it's their conditions," said Duckett.

"That's going to be such an important game. In a tournament like this you have to get on a roll so it's vital we start really well."

Duckett is the only member of the squad who was involved in the World Cup two years ago when England lost to South Africa in the quarter-finals before eventually finishing fifth.

The left-hander played in all six matches, hitting a half-century against Nepal, and has become a source of information for his inquisitive team-mates.

"It's massive," said Duckett as he reflected on what it means to play in a World Cup.

"I was lucky enough to go to the last one to know what its like. I'm hoping we can do even better.

"I'm going to enjoy it, try my hardest to perform and help the team do as well as they can.

"I know everyone is chuffed to be here - they are all so excited. Playing for England is amazing but playing in a World Cup is something that will stay with you forever."

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