James Bracey to make Test debut with Ben Foakes ruled out with hamstring injury

Gloucestershire keeper batsman James Bracey will make his Test debut next week after Surrey’s Ben Foakes was ruled out with a torn hamstring.

It is desperately cruel luck for Foakes who had been expected to make his first Test appearance at home following eight caps on tour in Sri Lanka, the West Indies and India.

Instead he will spend at least three months on the sidelines after slipping in the Kia Oval dressing room and doing the splits unexpectedly while wearing only socks following the Middlesex game last week.

Foakes’ injury means that the 24-year-old Bracey, who had been picked in the squad as a genuine batting option, will take the gloves and make his debut in the middle order at seven.

Foakes has suffered a cruel injury blow

Bracey has enjoyed a decent start to the summer with 479 runs so far for Gloucestershire to back up the strong impression he made as part of England’s wider covid-affected squads last summer and during the winter.

He caught the eye with runs for the Lions against Australia A last year in a win where Ollie Robinson and Dan Lawrence also shone, and all three of them could line up together at Lord’s.

And to back up his credentials his hundred against Somerset this season came against almost an exclusively international attack to suggest that he can cope with higher honours.

James Bracey will make his Test debut at Lord’s next week

Bracey’s ability to cover a range of positions also means that England have called up two players to do the same with Haseeb Hameed and the uncapped Sam Billings joining the squad.

It is a big moment for opening batsman Hameed who returns to an England squad for the first time since the last of his three caps against India in 2016.

He has been through a difficult patch scoring so lightly that Lancashire released him, but he has since seen a return to form at Nottinghamshire with 474 runs so far this season, including twin tons against Worcestershire

Haseeb Hameed is back in the England squad after a four and a half year absence

Following that game Hameed said: “Being let go by my home club was tough. But in those tough moments I have been lucky to find something deep inside me that doesn’t let me give up and urges me to try one more time.”

Kent skipper and keeper-batsman Billings has plenty of international experience when it comes to white-ball cricket with 52 T20i and ODI games under his belt, mainly as a batsman.

But in red ball cricket his experience is not quite as strong, with either bat or gloves, keeping most recently for Kent in 2018.

What his selection does say though is that Jonny Bairstow has slipped even further down the pecking order of Test match keeper batsmen.

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