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Andrew Alderson: Doug Bracewell facing uncertain future

Doug Bracewell, Photo / Photosport
Doug Bracewell, Photo / Photosport

Doug Bracewell's recidivist drink-driving behaviour might strand him as one of the most unfulfilled talents in New Zealand cricketing history.

The 26-year-old has racked up a third conviction for being more than three-times over the legal alcohol limit of 250 micrograms per litre of breath. Bracewell recorded 783mcg when pulled over on March 18 in the Hawke's Bay.

The Herald understands extenuating circumstances at home - expected to be raised at sentencing next month - might mitigate his cause.

Bracewell accepted he "stuffed up" and made "an extremely bad call", but such statements start ringing hollow after multiple infractions.

As a sporting prodigy, Bracewell made his first-class debut for Central Districts aged 18 in 2008. He was selected for his first Black Caps tour to Zimbabwe within three years. By December 12, 2011, in the third of his 27 tests, he inspired New Zealand to a seven-run victory over Australia in Hobart with six wickets for 40 runs in the final innings.

He has not taken more than five wickets in a test since; a batting average of 13.85 also belies his all-round talent.

That Hobart peak contrasted against an Auckland trough in February 2014. He and Jesse Ryder broke team protocol by drinking into the early hours of Waitangi Day, the first day of the opening test against India.

They were punished accordingly, but several sources confirmed Bracewell has made significant and consistent strides in the aftermath. He has become a valued member of the New Zealand environment, albeit after dropping down the selection rankings with a wealth of pace bowlers in stock. Past skirmishes with the law were expected, but the latest incident came as a shock.

Bracewell will be sentenced next month under the provisions for offenders who have two or more previous drink-drive convictions. The other instances occurred before he became an international cricketer.

The maximum penalty for the charge is two years in prison or a $6000 fine.

If Bracewell goes to jail, the punishment will be obvious. A fine or community work might come with other repercussions. Travelling overseas to play cricket could become tougher. Most countries require convictions to be declared, then it is a matter of government discretion whether applicants are granted entry.

A recent example came with convicted spot fixer Mohammad Amir's arrival in New Zealand during January 2016. He jumped through a raft of immigration hoops in his return to the international game.

Bracewell continues to recover from tearing an anterior cruciate ligament at New Plymouth's Yarrow Stadium on December 10 playing a Twenty20 match.

He remains a nationally-contracted player but that status will come under threat when next season's list is released in June.

His future is uncertain from there.

- NZ Herald

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