It wasn't that long ago that Bobby Bracey was contemplating life outside of the professional game. It's largely thanks to the MCCU opportunity at Loughborough that we're here today talking about Bracey as a future English star of cricket. The MCCU program was established to ensure that players didn't drop through the cracks. Those players didn't have to choose between a professional career and a first-class education.
The MCCU has funded six cricket academies at universities up and down the land, ensuring that the players at these universities have access to some of the best facilities and coaching in the country. Fast-forward 4 years and Bracey holds a 35.45 average in first-class cricket, a 60.87 average in List A cricket, and has just returned from a tour down under with the Lions.
It's been quite a remarkable rise for the Bristol-born left-handed top-order batsmen. After making his first-class debut for Gloucestershire in 2016, he was made to wait 3 years before making his List-A debut, but it's safe to say that he's taken his chance with both hands and run with it. At just 22 years of age, the future is extremely bright for James, a player who's highly accomplished as a wicket-keeper as well.
Bracey's batting and keeping helped Gloucestershire to a long-awaited return to the top division, and he'll be hoping he gets to face division one bowling in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic that is threatening to wash out the whole season.
Last season he hit a respectable 677 runs in first-class cricket, good for an average of 33.85. He works from a solid base showing a fine ability to play to both the leg-side and off-side. Comfortable clipping the balls of his pads, he also drives with plenty of conviction. He has plenty of inventiveness which has helped him in his List A game, and it can at times creep into his first-class batting, however from what I've seen he's a well-composed and fluid striker of the ball using his feet well.
James Bracey is coming off a year where he was recognised as the young player of the year at Gloucestershire. It may be that he has a brighter future in the England ODI side, with a superb record with the bat and lightning-quick reactions with the gloves, however I certainly wouldn't count him out when it comes to a future test career.