The Kiwis are here and after many years, they have a Bracewell with them again. While “Bracewell” may not be as big a name in New Zealand cricket as say, Crowe or Hadlee, it does hold a place in New Zealand cricketing tradition. This New Zealand team includes a seamer, Doug Bracewell, 21, who has played just one Test match but he is from a family with a fine pedigree in New Zealand cricket and he is in form.
Most of you would know that the most famous Bracewell is John. He played 41 Tests for New Zealand between 1980 and 1990 and took 102 wickets, and you would have to say that he is New Zealand’s second most accomplished spin bowler. He was at his peak in the summer of 1985-86 when New Zealand beat Australia in Test series both home and away. While the victory in Australia came mostly on the back of Sir Richard Hadlee (33 wickets in three Tests), Bracewell had a lot to do with the solitary victory in the series in New Zealand. He took 10 wickets in that match, including a match winning 6-32 in the second innings. John Bracewell was one of the few spin bowlers that I saw trouble Allan Border, a master of spin, on a regular basis.
John Bracewell has three brothers who also played first class cricket on and around New Zealand’s South Island. There are two older brothers, both of whom played a little first class cricket and also his younger brother, Brendon, played six Tests between 1978 and 1985 and it is he who begat Douglas Andrew John Bracewell. As we are doing some in depth genealogy here, it is worth nothing that Brendon named his son, taking a given name from each of his brothers. How nice. Which brings us back to Brisbane.
Doug Bracewell has just completed the warm up match with New Zealand against Australia A and he had a good match with bat and ball. Coming in down the order, he smashed 73 from just 79 balls and he was the best performed of the bowlers with 4-87. As I said, Bracewell has played just a solitary Test. He played in New Zealand’s recent one-off Test against Zimbabwe, in Bulawayo. That proved to be quite an experience for young Bracewell. Zimbabwe was chasing a mammoth 366 for victory and had reached a position of needing just 63 more runs, still with five wickets in hand. Bracewell came on and took three quick wickets, finished with five for the innings and with his captain, routed the Zimmers still with 34 runs to spare.
I don’t mean to put the Kiwis down but only the times they ever beat Australia in Test series were in the mid-eighties (not counting a one off Test at the end of the decade). This was at a time when Australian cricket was at a very low point. And it did coincide with a time when New Zealand had a pretty handy team which included players such as Wright, Edgar, Coney, the Crowes, Smith, Chatfield, John Bracewell and let’s not forget the Aussie’s nemesis, Sir Richard Hadlee.
This New Zealand visit corresponds with another trough in Australian cricket, especially considering the injury list and it also corresponds with a Bracewell being in what is quite a useful team. Now I admit there is not much science in this analysis but cricketers do tend to be superstitious, but perhaps the Bracewell factor will help the Kiwis account for the Aussies. New Zealand has not taken a Test from Australia since March 1993 – more than 18 years – could December 2011 see the drought break? Brace yourselves!
PS: It has to be recorded that Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor hit 23 sixes between them on the final day of the warm up match. Yes, that is twenty-three. Two-three. And that is against the mighty Australia A attack, which, as it turns out, will miraculously transform into the Australian attack come this Thursday. Ryder cleared the rope 16 times, equalling the record for a first class innings.