It's been 15 years since a cricket player from Gloucestershire made his England debut, Jon Lewis on the T20 scene against Australia in 2005, but among the 55 players who were asked to resume training for the summer, there is a young hitter who could be the one with this drought.
James Bracey is only 23 but has been on England's radar for 12 months. A central part of the team that won promotion to Division One last year, the Bristolian also received its first call to the Lions in 2019 and was part of the undefeated team in Australia in February, scoring 65 in a first victory over his Team.
However, this Bristol Academy product was pleasantly surprised to be among the county players who were asked to drop the licensing plan and join established internationals to prepare for action.
“I had received this call a few weeks ago,” says Bracey. “But when the list came out, it was in alphabetical order and watching him go something like Archer, Anderson, Bairstow, Burns then Bracey … yeah, that was pretty weird. It was a buzz and I hope this feeling will last a long time.
England have not specified which players have been assigned to which format and while they use red and white balls in the nets at County Ground in association with their highly qualified head coach Richard Dawson, Bracey imagines that might have been assigned to the former.
The left-hander generally conforms to his county's four-day order, with Gareth Roderick holding the door, but he is behind the stumps of the team over 50 and received gloves in all formats during the trip in Los Angeles. Lions this year. This tour, in addition to working with English wicket keeper coach Bruce French at a spinning camp in Mumbai before Christmas, apparently did a lot to broaden his horizons.
Bracey says, “The Lions tour was a big step forward. The instruction was very simple: learn to win in Australia. We didn't lose a game and beating A side at MCG, the first for the Lions, was huge for the next Ashes tour. You really feel like you are in an international organization.
“I thought he was there as a hitter and a goalkeeper, so keeping everything but a game was great for me. Where is my I feel like I have the potential to play as a hitter or goalkeeper, but I don't know how it is perceived. “
Bracey cites three left-handed teammates as his idols: Kumar Sangakkara, for combining the gloves with long runs, and two starters to Alastair Cook and Graeme Smith for the way they “sticked to simple game plans” and put the execution of the runs in front of the stick.
His own numbers are encouraging here, with a mid-1930s average in first class cricket and 60 after a first season in the Royal London Cup. What stands out is the possibility of adapting its tempo according to the situation and the role it plays.
In a somewhat depressing statistic for those of a certain age, Bracey was only six when Jack Russell hung up his old gloves for Gloucestershire. However, he is still a great admirer of Russell's work, as well as the wicket keeper that many consider his modern equivalent.
Bracey says: “When I joined the Gloucestershire Academy at the age of 17, Jack did a few sessions and I always talk to him when we meet these days. He loves to discuss cricket and each time is an opportunity to get something out of him.
“Some of the footage of him in front of the strains was recently posted on YouTube and it's outrageous enough to be honest, certainly something to aspire to.”
“I spent a week with Bruce French in India last year, taking care of the spinners on the nets and it's very different from here, which was great. I also worked with Ben Foakes last year. People say he is the best in the country and you see why when you are around, how meticulous and creative he is with his exercises. “
As one of five wicket keepers on the training team, but with only five test limits to date, Foakes highlights the competition Bracey faces to win his first limit.
But after winning his first academy contract in 2015 after a second last-minute call to XI during which he converted a score of 43 for five into 370 into 98 silent, he is, like all good gloves, ready. jump.
“It is still crazy to think that I am part of a training team in England.” Every step you take towards a national call seems important, ”adds Bracey. “Whether this year, next year or five years from now, I hope to be able to take the last one.”