Winterbourne cricketer James Bracey called up by England
WINTERBOURNE cricketer James Bracey is preparing to make his England Test debut after being called up to play in next week's series against New Zealand.
James is "far and away the best cricketer ever to come from Winterbourne”, according to the chairman of the village cricket club where he learned the sport.
The popular wicket-keeper batsman celebrated his 24th birthday recently and just a few days later was one of two previously-uncapped players to be called into the 15-man squad for the first summer Test series.
His selection marks the next giant stride in a cricketing career which started at Winterbourne Cricket Club at the age of seven, before James joined Gloucestershire’s academy.
He played at Loughborough University and was a member of the MCC Universities team and before making his full Gloucestershire debut in 2016.
During his first full year as a professional in 2019 pundits already had him marked out as one to watch. After playing for the England Lions team, James was part of the England training squad last summer and spent the winter as a travelling reserve player for the tours to Sri Lanka and India.
In an interview published on Gloucestershire’s website, James said: "I’ve been around the group for a while now and I feel my game is in a good place at the moment
"Hopefully, there’s a spot that comes up in the top three for me. I’ve had a lot of experience around the England group and I know the other players and staff a lot better than if I hadn’t been involved previously.
"Test cricket is obviously the next level again and with the fans back at Lord’s, its the sort of stuff you dream of, if I am able to get a cap."
Nowhere will there be more pride than at Winterbourne CC, where James's dad and brother play and his mum Liz is club secretary.
Club chairman Bob Vickery said: "He is such a great lad and is so level-headed that he is doing his family proud, doing Winterbourne proud.
"He is often over at the club, pops in all the time, but even though he is now an England cricketer, to us he is just Jim Bob!
"He is just a really nice young man who is taking all his success in his stride really.”
Mum Liz said: "He does seem to be taking it in his stride at the moment.
"I think being in the ‘bubble’ with England last summer and away over the winter has given him a lot of thinking time, and he has worked on the mental side of things quite a lot.
"He’s taught himself how to approach it all more level headedly – so not such big highs and lows.
"So if he does make the team it won’t be all new to him, because he has already formed those friendships & relationships with the others."
After seeing her son’s progress through the years, Liz admits that ‘proud’ doesn’t even come close to how she feels.
She said: "It's surreal – we can’t really take it in.
"Every day he seems to be in one of the national newspapers or on the radio engaging in conversations with people like Phil Tufnell and Michael Vaughan."
Liz and the rest of the family have tickets for the first three days of the Lord’s Test against New Zealand, which starts on Wednesday June 2, in the hope that James makes the starting line-up.
She said: “Having spent so many days on the side of the pitch under umbrellas and on deckchairs, it seemed silly not to take the opportunity to enjoy it in the family box at the headquarters of cricket!”