Gloucestershire wicketkeeper-batsman James Bracey says he is looking to learn from Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow after being named in England’s 55-man training group.
The 23-year-old is one of five glovemen – Buttler, Bairstow, Ben Foakes and Sam Billings the others – picked in an enlarged pool of players, which is likely to be split into red and white-ball squads later this summer when international cricket is given the green light to resume.
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Bracey knows competition for wicketkeeping spots is fierce but is hopeful he could make his international bow this year, after helping Gloucestershire earn promotion to County Championship Division One in 2019 and then impressing for England Lions in Australia over the winter.
“You only need one keeper at a time and it’s a saturated group with five of us in this group,” Bracey – Gloucestershire’s sole representative in England’s training party – told Sky Sports News‘ David Fulton.
“Working alongside the guys at some point will obviously benefit me hugely as it is a high-quality group. The likes of Jos and Jonny have been doing it for the last 10 years almost, so they have a lot of experience. There is a lot for me to learn from them.
“I played with Ben last year for the Lions and from just a week around him I was able to learn a lot about my glovework.
“If I can keep working on both skills and with the schedule [possibly being tight] it could give opportunities. If you keep working hard you never know what’s going to happen.
“It’s really good to be part of a group that is full of the best players in the country. It is a big step for me and I don’t think it’s the step people expected for me after the Lions.
“I am honoured to be on the same page as those guys who experienced it all with the World Cup and Ashes last summer. It’s pretty surreal.”
Bracey had been placed on furlough by Gloucestershire as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic begin to bite and says he has had to be “creative” as he works out during lockdown.
The left-hander will soon begin sessions at Bristol and has been reassured by the ECB’s “meticulous” approach to the resumption of training.
“The restrictions mean a lot of the stuff we usually do is off limits, so we have had to be a bit creative with our training,” added Bracey.
“With players and staff being furloughed, that lack of interaction is a bit alien to us and we have had to do things for ourselves. It has been a good learning curve but it will be great to start feeding off the coaches again.
“The detail the ECB has gone into to get us back into training has been meticulous so it gives you confidence going back into those surroundings.
“It helps with me being the only one from Gloucestershire so there will only be three or four of us max at the ground which helps in terms of the health aspect.”
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