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September 11, 2012

Vince knock lights up Sky

Jarrod Kimber
James Vince helped add a rapid 129 for the first wicket, Sussex v Hampshire, CB40 semi-final, Hove, September 1, 2012
James Vince bats for Hampshire  © Getty Images
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When I first came to the UK, I thought Liam Dawson was going to be the next big thing in English cricket. In one week, I saw him take wickets with his part-time left-arm spin and score impressive runs repeatedly in the middle order for Hampshire and England U-19s. I did all this without ever leaving my house. Liam Dawson just happened to be on Sky every time I turned on my TV, and I saw every single good thing he did.

Four years on, Dawson averages 32 in first-class cricket and less than a wicket a match. He's only 22, and I still think he has talent, but by this stage in his career I would like his figures to be a bit prettier than that.

There are 18 counties in UK county cricket, spread over two divisions. It's impossible to follow it all unless you're a crazy fan with too much time on your hands. Most county writers only follow one team, or one region. International cricket writers barely see any live county cricket.

It's also impossible to follow it all if you're a selector trying to find the next big thing. Geoff Miller can't be at every ground. Even for Ashley Giles, who works in county cricket as coach of Warwickshire, he is only going to see some players two or three times a year. In old-fashioned times, it was a large reason why selectors picked the players from their area; sure, some were biased, but it's easier to pick someone you know than someone else you hardly see and are just relying on scorecard information.

Because of TV, a lot of that has changed. Bizarrely, Merv Hughes suggested you learn little about a cricketer from watching TV, although the many analysts that cricket teams have now would suggest otherwise.

So when James Vince glided to the crease, and he does glide, with Hampshire 26 for 3 in their televised Division Two game and left at 226 for 6 with a hundred to his name, it couldn't have been much-better timed. Even without the cameras Vince may have scored this knock, but how many people would have seen it? How many people would have been talking about the green pitch, the odd bounce, and the effortlessness of Vince's knock? When he was dismissed, Vince had scored over half of Hampshire's total, on a pitch they looked like they wouldn't survive on until tea. It doesn't look as impressive on a scorecard. And with seven other scorecards out there, it's just another number for people to scan over.

Vince is a very pretty batsman to watch. He cover-drives like a painting, rarely seems rushed, never overhits the ball, plays straight, and can dispatch a ball off his pads without much effort. He's also only 21. It would be easy to put these things together and expect Vince to be getting a late call-up for India, or very soon after that.

In his career, Vince actually averages less than Dawson, and before this innings his Championship average for this year was 18. Even with those two facts, anyone who saw him playing against Derbyshire will bring it up in the future, because that's the power of a pretty green-top hundred that's been broadcast around the country.

Had Vince made this hundred three weeks ago, during a Test or even during any of his previous nine county matches this year, it just simply would not have meant as much to his career. If you're only going to make one county hundred a year, you couldn't time it better than when the Sky trucks are in the car park.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for cricketwithballs.com

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Keywords: Broadcasting, Offbeat

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Duff Duff on (September 12, 2012, 14:42 GMT)

You are right Tom. Taylor is undoubtedly a class player but his good one day performances certainly brought him to the attention of the cricket media. In contrast other middle order players who you could term as 'Championship Specialists' such as James Hildreth are overlooked despite scoring 1200 runs at 53s this season and having a fine first class record overall.

The same can be said of spin bowlers too. Despite a couple of good ODI performances Tredwell has had a poor first class season. He has taken only 19 Division 2 wickets at 39s. Other contenders are playing much better. Kerrigan has taken 44 Division 1 wickets a 33s. The same can be said of Samit Patel. He has taken only 14 wickets at 38s while Wainwright from Derby has taken 42 wickets at 31s.

Not sure what the solution is to this be honest but the Championship is the centre piece of the season. Test selection should be decided by performances in the Championship not one day and 2020 matches.

Posted by Duff Duff on (September 12, 2012, 9:46 GMT)

The power of TV runs. English cricket used to be so badly run that if someone put in a good performance in the televised NatWest trophy the used to make the plane for the England tour that winter. A bit part performance in a one day game and you were given a test cap.

I am not sure if that same power still remains though I do think performances in one day and 2020 cricket do have a disproportionate influence on players chances of playing for England because they are is so much of it on TV. Only 2 first class county matches have been on Sky this season, just two. This results in excellent County Championship performers being ignored by the media that follow the England team. Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan seem to be the two that are most overlooked. Woakes has brilliant first class figures, better than either Botham or Flintoff, whilst Kerrigan is prodigious wicket taking spinner at the age of only 23. Two potential England greats that aren't even mentioned to be in reckoning.

Posted by Tom Maston on (September 11, 2012, 18:34 GMT)

SKY are part of the reason as to why James Taylor was selected for England this year. He is definitely a talented player but his CB40 hundred against Hampshire made Joe Public cricket fan sit up and notice and apply pressure for his inclusion in the England team. I'm not saying he was solely picked off the back of that innings, but it gave a number of fans & journalists something to talk about when discussing England's middle order.

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