Hampshire v Yorkshire, Specsavers Championship Div One, Ageas Bowl, 1st day April 21, 2017

Vince's hundred resumes his Yorkshire affinity

Hampshire 281 for 4 (Vince 143*, Coad 3-49) v Yorkshire
Scorecard

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They gathered at the Ageas Bowl under layers in stands and behind laptops in the press box to watch Yorkshire and England's Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow. They left talking about Hampshire's James Vince. Were this a gig, you could lay claim to seeing one of the great warm-up acts. But Vince's innings - a 19th first-class hundred that has yet to finish - sees Hampshire in control of the main stage.

The hosts were grateful that Yorkshire took the option to bowl first. Gary Ballance saw cloud cover and sought ball in hand, but the Ageas Bowl pitch rarely has time for bowlers, even in April. And while there was something to work with when the ball was fresh, the rest of the time was hard, dulling graft.

Vince has developed an intriguing affinity for Yorkshire: a "Stranger Things" type tangled web of alternate universes that has seen the God's Own County play a support role in key acts of 26-year-old's career to date. This was his first hundred in over a year. That, too, came against today's opponents, at Headingley.

His maiden first-class hundred - 180 at the age of 19 - came at Scarborough in 2010. That sole 2016 century, away at Yorkshire, convinced England selector James Whitaker that Vince was a Test cricketer (Whitaker was also one of many who left Scarborough six years earlier convinced they'd seen the future).

Fittingly, Vince's Test debut came against Sri Lanka at Headingley later that summer. But seven matches, 11 innings, no score of note and an average of 19.27 saw Vince shelved. He has not represented England since an ODI against Bangladesh in October. International honours are still on his mind, but 2016 is a year Vince is keen to put behind him.

Asked about where he sees his career at this moment, he was dry and grizzly at a question usually put to players five years his senior: "I'm not really focussing on that at the moment. I still have international aspirations - of course. I've just tried to bring it back to basics: score runs for Hampshire and see what happens in the next 12-months. I'm only 26, so hopefully I've got a few years left."

One thing he was willing to admit was that taking a step back from captaincy duties is for his own good. He will hand the reins to George Bailey when the Australian arrives in the UK next week.

"The club were pretty open about it but, in the end, it probably more came from me," he said. "I felt I had to concentrate on my own four-day game. I still enjoy captaincy."

It will be interesting to see what the universe has in store for Vince after this third century against Yorkshire (the most he has against any county). For now, Hampshire have eyes on turning over Yorkshire twice in a month.

It was a very James Vince knock: 80 runs in boundaries through fluid drives and elegant pulls, punctuated by the occasional dance down the wicket to flay Adil Rashid back over his head - all done with the calm ambivalence of a man putting the bins out. He went into lunch on 39 from 80 balls, returning to bring up his half-century from 108 deliveries. The next set of runs to take him to three figures came quicker: a four through point off Root, from his 180th ball faced, took Vince to 103, a moment greeted with a skip and a punch of the air. Even Vince, normally not one for jokes when dictaphones are about, found light relief: "Nice of him to give me a short wide one to get there."

Of course, there were skittish moments outside off stump, most notable when, on 39, he needlessly twitched at a wide delivery from David Willey and offered a sharp chance to Adam Lyth at second slip. Lyth's usually capable hands failed him. Then, the ball after tea, with 97 to his name, Root tempted him into a booming drive that missed the edge of both the stumps and Vince's bat by a whisker.

But he's still there, with 143 to his name and one of his closest allies Liam Dawson for company. An important stand of 82 with season-debutant Tom Alsop took the remaining shine off the ball and the Yorkshire attack, allowing Vince and Sean Ervine to put on 110 in 25.1 overs.

That Ben Coad has been able to continue his bright start to season on an unforgiving pitch indicates that he is no flash in the plan. All three of his wickets today were earned: Michael Carberry starved outside off and then lured into a swipe behind; Jimmy Adams, feet still at lunch, trapped lbw to the first ball of the second session; Ervine forced to prod at a delivery that went across him.

There is something on offer with the new ball but Vince knows that Hampshire's best chance of putting the boot into Yorkshire is to run their batsmen ragged in the field. He'll look to land a few more shots on Saturday.

Vithushan Ehantharajah is a sportswriter for ESPNcricinfo, the Guardian, All Out Cricket and Yahoo Sport

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  • nothirdman on April 21, 2017, 22:47 GMT

    Why is the man ambivalent about putting the bins out?

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