Bracey pushes claims for Eng­land call with 85 in ‘strange’ new world

Un­her­alded bats­man-keeper has top-three Test po­ten­tial An­der­son shrugs off slow start after in­jury to show he is back

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Tim Wig­more

Eng­land’s unique sum­mer be­gan with an un­fa­mil­iar name thriv­ing, as James Bracey’s 85 fur­thered his Test cre­den­tials dur­ing the in­trasquad warm-up game at the Ageas Bowl. “I’m de­lighted,” the left­hander said after his in­nings helped Jos But­tler’s team close on 287 for five at a de­serted ground. “It was a great op­por­tu­nity to get out there against the new ball and sort of show them what I’ve got.”

But Bracey ad­mit­ted the at­mos­phere was “strange” with­out any crowd, and said that play­ers had sug­gested mea­sures – such as crowd noise and mu­sic be­ing played be­tween overs – to try to repli­cate the nor­mal buzz of an in­ter­na­tional match when the first Test begins next Wed­nes­day.

“Some of the lads just made a few com­ments, try­ing to think of a cou­ple of ideas that might liven it up a bit. It was very, very quiet and, ob­vi­ously, strange for all of us, es­pe­cially when you as­so­ciate what we’re do­ing with Test cricket – it’s not the first thought that comes to mind. But you know we’ll deal with it and hope­fully at some point we’ll get that to­gether at­mos­phere back.

“There are a cou­ple of sug­ges­tions like the foot­ball get­ting the crowd noise and that sort of stuff, and maybe a bit of mu­sic in be­tween overs. It might be more as­so­ci­ated with one-day cricket, but at this time it might be use­ful to cre­ate that for us peo­ple in the ground – not a huge amount, but hope­fully the ECB [Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board] at some point, and Cricket West Indies can come up with some­thing that might help.” Bracey is one of four wick­et­keep­ers in Eng­land’s 30-man squad, along­side But­tler, Jonny Bairstow and Ben Foakes, but at this stage it is his com­pact bat­ting that is of most in­ter­est. He reg­u­larly bats at three for Glouces­ter­shire and has de­vel­oped a game built around a ro­bust de­fence and solid ac­cu­mu­la­tion that Eng­land be­lieve could be well suited to the top three in the Test arena.

“I haven’t opened up a huge amount in the last cou­ple of years, I’ve been in around that top three, but a lot of peo­ple wouldn’t have seen me as play­ing that role, so it’s re­ally nice to re­pay some faith and show them that, you know, I’ve got the ca­pa­bil­ity to do that job,” Bracey said. “I’m not get­ting too ahead of my­self, but just keep

work­ing hard and hope­fully at some point I might fea­ture.”

He was par­tic­u­larly pleased with how he sur­vived sev­eral spells from Eng­land’s lead­ing Test wicket-taker James An­der­son. “There was a long spell from Jimmy at the start of the day and through the mid­dle as well, so it’s re­ally nice to be able to com­bat one of the world’s best and know I’ve got the ca­pa­bil­i­ties to get through those tough pe­ri­ods.”

Craig Over­ton bowled a test­ing spell as first change to fur­ther his case to be in­cluded in the trun­cated squad, of 20-22 play­ers, that will be se­lected on Satur­day. Over­ton’s twin brother Jamie was orig­i­nally not due to play, but stran­gled Bracey down the leg side after Olly Stone’s ham­string com­plaint al­lowed him to fea­ture in the game.

An­der­son, bowl­ing in a match for the first time since suf­fer­ing a rib in­jury while tak­ing seven wick­ets in Eng­land’s win in Cape Town in Jan­uary, did not lo­cate his nor­mal unerring line and length with the new ball. But he was no­tably more threat­en­ing when he re­turned later in the day, seam­ing a ball back in to trap Joe Denly lbw for 48 and claim­ing the en­ter­pris­ing Dan Lawrence, caught at short mid­wicket with the sec­ond new ball.

While the shape of Denly’s in­nings was fa­mil­iar – he faced over 100 balls, as he has done in nine of his past 15 Test in­nings, but again failed to make a match-defin­ing score – it a prob­a­bly en­sured his place in the line-up for the first Test, where he is likely to bat at four be­neath Dom Si­b­ley, Rory Burns and Zak Craw­ley.

With the first Test in mind, per­haps it was re­veal­ing that Moeen Ali was used spar­ingly – he did not get a bowl un­til the 69th over. Jack Leach failed to press the case that he is the best spin op­tion against the West Indies right-han­ders, strug­gling for con­trol and be­ing hit for a straight six by Denly. So, Dom Bess, the man “in pos­ses­sion”, who did not bat, bowl or field, en­joyed a good start to Eng­land’s sum­mer.

On song: James Bracey yes­ter­day

Find­ing their way: (left) Saqib Mah­mood bowls four byes with the first ball of the match; (above) spaced out in the pav­il­ion, and (right) James An­der­son uses the hand sani­tiser

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.