England’s James Bracey eager for Test match ‘pressure’

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By AFP

LONDON: James Bracey is confident he will relish the pressure of international cricket should he make a Test debut for England against New Zealand at Lord’s on Wednesday.

The Gloucestershire wicketkeeper-batsman is in line to make his Test bow as a wicketkeeper after fellow gloveman Ben Foakes was ruled out of the two-match series by a freak hamstring injury, suffered while slipping on the Surrey dressing-room floor.

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With England resting experienced keepers Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow following their stints in the Indian Premier League, Bracey is now to set be behind the stumps. 

“I always get a few nerves, I think it is natural,” the 24-year-old Bracey told reporters on Monday. 

“I have learnt to channel those in a better way in the last couple of years.”

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“I feel like when I have nerves and there is a bit more riding on things, I tend to come good and thrive on that bit of pressure,” he added.

Bracey, however, has been in and around the England set-up for over a year.

“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.”

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Meanwhile, Bracey thanked Foakes for putting his personal disappointment to one side to offer his likely successor as keeper some valuable advice.

– ‘Gutted’ –

“I spoke to him yesterday (Sunday) and he is really helpful to me in terms of keeping and our different bowlers and how you can combat that and what challenges I might come up against. 

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“I know he is gutted but he has been brilliant with me over the last 48 hours.”

Bracey, averaging 48 in first-class cricket for Gloucestershire this season, expected that the way into England’s XI would be as a top-order batsman.

And having been in the squad during England’s 3-1 series defeat in India earlier this year, thos ambitions remain.

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“I came out of that trip to Asia and looked at myself and thought I could do a job in Test cricket in that top three, that’s what I’ve been aiming to do,” he said. “Opportunity comes with the gloves but I want to be batting in the top three as well.”

But Bracey, whose scores this season include a best of 118 against Somerset and 75 against Middlesex at Lord’s, may find himself batting at number six or seven for England if he is also their wicketkeeper.

Bracey, he insisted he’d been “pretty good” at waiting to bat this season.

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“I am a little bit twitchy, a little bit nervous, but I feel like that’s all channelled in a good way,” Bracey said. 

“I’m not massively used to batting down the order but I’m confident I’ll jump into that.”

New Zealand, following this two-match series against England, face India in the inaugural World Test Championship final at Southampton later this month.

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And Bracey expects to have his work cut out with the bat against a New Zealand attack set to be led by Tim Southee.

“I like to think when it comes to batting, I like to get in a battle, gritty, not afraid to go through those hard yards, go through those tough spells which I know I’m certain to come up against when I play Test cricket,” he said. 

“We’ve discussed a lot of the bowlers and we know that they’re going to put pressure on us. But I feel like in those scenarios I thrive and come really good.”

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