England cricket fans have a new wicketkeeper to familiarise themselves with. We profiled the uncapped bowlers last week, and now we’ve turned our attention to another uncapped hopeful: James Bracey of Gloucestershire. He’s just taken one step nearer to achieving the ultimate dream and been named in England’s 30-man training squad for the West Indies Tests, so now feels like the perfect time to take a closer look.
With the likes of Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, and Ben Foakes to compete with, it is no mean feat to be noticed as a wicketkeeper in this country. Some would argue that none of the above have yet become untouchable in the red-ball game but their quality is such that any new names force us to sit up and take notice.
In terms of what he could bring to the England side, he’s a fluent left-hander with the bat and a very tidy keeper – one of those irritating people who seems to be good at whatever they try. For the perfect example of just that, take a look at his maiden T20 fifty from last summer. Not only does he make the most advanced of strokes look deceivingly easy but he also looks like he’s playing half of them for the first time ever, which speaks to his ability to adapt and succeed under pressure – something his coaches have noted.
It is also important to note that Bracey is only 23 years old, not that you’d know that if you met him. All who have the pleasure speak of an incredible maturity and work ethic, two traits that belie his years somewhat. He’s also a local boy through and through, supporting Bristol Rovers when time allows and representing his county in all three formats a mile down the road.
With so much time still left in his cricketing career, Bracey’s name is undoubtedly one to commit to memory; should he succeed over the next few years in his endeavours to break into England’s senior side, he could well become a permanent fixture.
His first class record is solid, 2092 runs, eight centuries, and 49 catches in 38 games, but the battling performances he has put in with the bat – particularly his two gritty centuries in 2018 – would certainly make him an asset to the England line up and popular among Test cricket purists.
Unseating the trio of keepers available to England this summer looks no easy task for Bracey and his inclusion in the training group may in fact be a move that the selectors are hoping will pay dividends down the line. It could also speak to the fact that some key players may not be able to play in all formats in the months to come.
Bracey’s inner-drive and clear talent will serve him well over the coming weeks, and indeed for the foreseeable future. Should he continue to improve at a similar rate, this will certainly not be the last article you read about him.