Home cricket Eng vs NZ 2021 – ‘It happens when you don’t expect it’

Eng vs NZ 2021 – ‘It happens when you don’t expect it’

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Wicketkeeper’s spot is yet to be confirmed but he is suddenly the frontline option after Foakes’ injury

When England announced their 55-man return-to-training squad last summer, it’s probably fair to say James Bracey was in the outer orbit among candidates for the Test side. But Bracey, a well thought of young wicketkeeper-batter from Gloucestershire, who had impressed for England Lions on their 2019-20 tour of Australia, quickly made an impression. Twelve months on, he is on the verge of a Test debut at Lord’s.
Having spent almost 20 weeks in bio-secure bubbles as England’s reserve batting option last summer and on tours of Sri Lanka and India, Bracey had been seen as vying for a spot in the top three when the squad to face New Zealand was announced earlier this month. However, with a dressing-room mishap ruling out Ben Foakes, and England’s other wicketkeeping options, Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow, not considered after their post-IPL quarantine, Bracey is set to take the gloves – something he admits he “didn’t really have on my radar.”

“I was really excited when I got the call about being in the 15,” he said. “It’s a bit different to how I have been around the group in the last year or so. I think that step up into the main squad is a big landmark. I have been taken on in each group – originally in the 55 and then it kept being cut down and now I feel like I am really close. I am really keen to get going.

“When I heard about Ben it was almost a shock – I didn’t really have it on my radar to be there as a keeper. I knew that Ben was highly likely to take those gloves, and when I got that call it didn’t really sink in straight away but when I arrived in London it started to hit that it was a distinct possibility.”

Bracey’s spot has yet to be confirmed, but he is suddenly the frontline option in a position where England have not been short of competition over recent years (Sam Billings, who has kept in the white-ball teams, is also with the squad as cover). Buttler is currently first choice, while Foakes has won universal plaudits for the standard of his keeping and was in line to play his first home Test after impressing in India. But given Bracey’s rapid rise, it would not be a surprise if he grabbed his chance.

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