Gloucestershire batsman James Bracey this week headed to Southampton to link up with the rest of the England squad ahead of the Test series against the West Indies.
For the last few weeks the 23-year-old, who hails from Winterbourne, has been travelling to Taunton several times a week to work with fellow Bristolian Marcus Trescothick.
The two have a lot in common, both are top-order left-handed batsmen and grew up playing for their local clubs before going on to play the game at first class level, but when it comes to football teams that is where they beg to differ!
Trescothick, who retired from playing at the end of last season after a glittering career with England and Somerset, is a staunch Bristol City fan while the Bracey family are Rovers fans through and through.
However that didn’t seem to prevent the pair of them working together- and mostly in the sunshine at Taunton.
Called into England’s 55-man training squad, Bracey said: “We both come from similar backgrounds and he is someone who I aspire to. Having had the chance to work with him was a very positive experience for me with the love of the game that he so obviously has.
“It have been able to pick his brains and learn so much from him. We are both top-order left handers with similar games really, so if I can take some things from him and incorporate them into my game it will be a huge benefit.
“I worked with him when I played for the Lions last summer, then had a couple of one to one sessions with him at Loughborough during the winter and now this over the last two or three weeks, it’s just so nice to work with someone who has that real passion.”
Bracey has made something of a meteoric rise in cricketing circles. Last season he was the third highest run scorer in the championship for the county and helped Gloucestershire get promotion back to the top division. While he was the team’s leading run-scorer in both the T20 Blast and the Royal London One Day Cup.
Trescothick said: “James is a good player and you can see why he is in the position he is in at the moment and just why he is in the England squad of 30.He is making waves and people are talking about him for future honours.
“He has made big strides fairly quickly and had last winter with the Lions so he has had the taste of a winter trip away with England teams so he is obviously doing something right.”
Another thing that Bracey and Trescothick have in common is that they are among a growing number of players who use Millichamp and Hall bats, which are handmade in the workshops at the Cooper Associates County Ground in Taunton.
Bracey said: “ I have never had a bad bat from them and once I started to make a name for myself in cricket I was lucky enough to get them to sponsor me. They are a small local firm and look after me so well.
When he last visited Taunton the young batsman joined the M&H roll of honour by signing his name on the bat makers infamous toilet wall.
“I have been into their famous toilet a couple of times and my name hasn’t been there so when I was down there last I signed it just below Tres which was quite cool. Its nice to see all the names of the guys who have used their gear on the wall – there are some pretty big names there.”
“Now I am there so hopefully in 15 or so years time a 23-year-old Gloucestershire pro will be looking at my name and say ‘wow, James Bracey on the wall!’”