James Bracey goes into Gloucestershire’s first Specsavers County Championship match against Derbyshire at Bristol today looking to build on a blossoming reputation.

The 21-year-old product of local club cricket scored 785 runs in his first full summer of Championship cricket last season at an average of 32.7, including centuries against Glamorgan and Middlesex.

Now, following a successful winter in Australia, Bracey is looking to press for selection in all formats of the game.

“The winter was good for me,” he said.

“I went over to Perth for five months playing grade cricket, while doing a lot of training with some good coaches and other players.

“It was my first winter abroad, having finished at university. I wanted to go at the first opportunity and I got some valuable match practice, playing for club side Rockingham-Mandurah.

“I scored around 800 runs and it was great to come back to Gloucestershire with some rhythm to my batting in preparation for the summer.

“Playing in Australia also enabled me to make some good contacts and I certainly intend to go back there in future.”

Bracey, who honed his skills with Winterbourne and then Bristol Cricket Club, reflects proudly on last season, while admitting there is still plenty to work on.

“It was a good first season in county cricket for me,” he said. “Now I want to cement my place in the red ball side again and hopefully help our batting unit develop further.

“We had some collapses last season, which prevented us winning games, so that is something we need to work on.

“I would also like to throw my hat into the ring for selection in white-ball cricket. We have some very talented one-day players so it won’t be easy.

“It was nice to score a hundred off around 70 balls against Glamorgan in the second one-day game of our pre-season trip to La Manga.

“I had worked on my power-hitting and bringing my strike-rate up in Perth. The way white-ball cricket is played these days a century at a run a ball doesn’t really cut it.

“You can’t afford to take a back seat for a while and just knock the ball around for singles, so it was good to show I have the necessary shots in my locker.

“It’s a balancing act because I don’t want to lose the powers of concentration that have enabled me to score big in four-day cricket.”

With three promotion places up for grabs in the Second Division of the Championship this year, Bracey believes a good opening result against Derbyshire at the Brightside Ground can signal a successful campaign for Gloucestershire.

“If we can start this season like we finished last summer I see no reason why we can’t challenge strongly to go up,” he said.

“We competed well against the top teams and it is all about reaching the necessary level of consistency. All of us in the top order fired at some points and now we have to string partnerships together on a regular basis.”