England v New Zealand: Keeper James Bracey wants spot in hosts' top three

James Bracey
James Bracey has made one hundred and four half-centuries for Gloucestershire this season
Venue: Lord’s Date: 2-6 June Time: 11:00 BST
Coverage: Test Match Special commentary, in-play video highlights and text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app

James Bracey says he is eager to prove he can bat in England’s top three if he is given his Test debut against New Zealand at Lord’s on Wednesday.

Bracey is set to keep wicket and bat at number seven, but usually bats in the top three for Gloucestershire.

“It’s an opportunity to not only push myself with the gloves but really show what I can do with the bat,” said the 24-year-old.

“I want to be batting in the top three as well.”

With Jos Buttler rested, Ben Foakes was set to play his first home Test, only to tear his hamstring when he slipped in the Surrey dressing room.

Left-hander Bracey was in the squad as cover for the batting and keeping spots, having been around the England set-up for most of the past year.

“I’m in a really good place with my batting,” he said. “I came out of the winter tours to Asia and thought I could do a job in Test cricket in the top three. That’s what I’ve been aiming to do.”

England have used four different keepers in Test cricket in the past two years – Buttler, Foakes and Jonny Bairstow, while Ollie Pope was called on as injury cover on tour in New Zealand in 2019.

Although Bracey kept as a youngster, he only established himself as Gloucestershire’s first-choice keeper after taking the gloves on England Lions’ tour of Australia at the beginning of last year.

“I’ve worked really hard on it for the past couple of years,” said Bracey, who averages 36.78 with the bat in first-class cricket.

“I’m in a really confident space over the fact I can perform with the gloves as well as the bat.

“With Jos, Jonny and Ben coming back later in the summer, the place might not be mine to keep. As long as I show myself as a good keeper, it will help me out moving forward.”

New Zealand coach Gary Stead has confirmed that pace bowler Trent Boult is unlikely to feature in either of the Tests against England, instead focusing on the World Test Championship final against India in Southampton on 18 June.

Boult returned to New Zealand after the Indian Premier League was postponed at the beginning of May and will only arrive in the UK on Friday.


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