Hampshire v Surrey, Ageas Bowl, 2nd day April 28, 2014

Vince drives himself into contention

Hampshire 289 for 3 (Vince 118*) v Surrey

There are any number of cabs on the rank, engines running. But a second high quality century of the season ought to have moved James Vince up the queue of traffic hoping to benefit from England's miserable winter.

The 23-year-old Vince took complete charge of another weather-hit day to strike an unbeaten 118, at virtually a run-a-ball, and put Division Two leaders Hampshire in a position that would be even stronger but for rain allowing just 31 overs.

Vince's innings, which followed a knock of 144 against Gloucestershire, and a couple of unbeaten half-centuries, means the stylish right-hander has now accumulated 400 Championship runs and currently lies a close second in the early season hit list to Ian Bell.

Being mentioned in the same paragraph as Bell is no bad thing - and, given the way Vince is playing (and played last season) he could soon be named in the same England squad as him, be that at limited-overs or even Test level.

"A year ago I would have said he was a better one-day player but I feel he has found a method in this form of the game that holds him in good stead in first-class cricket as well," said Giles White, Hampshire's director of cricket.

Last summer was Vince's breakthrough campaign as a Championship player. He topped 1000 runs (1101 at 61.16 to be precise) for the first time after some hard work with the county's batting coach, Tony Middleton.

"He changed his technique two years ago, altering his set up and the way he lines up the ball," explained White. "He has reaped the rewards from that, has a very straightforward method and executes his game plan very well.

"The way he strikes the ball, his range of stroke - he looks at a different level to other players. That's a credit to the hard work he has put in and to what a talent he is."

County coaches quite understandably push their own players, and White accepts that Vince is far from alone in the race for England recognition. But he says: "We see him every day and he looks every bit a potential England player, and has done for a season and a bit now. If he keeps on putting in these performances he will be knocking pretty loudly on that door. I'm sure he is one of those players the selectors area aware of.

"I wouldn't be surprised [if he stepped up this season]. He seems to learn very quickly and is maturing as an individual. He has to continue to do it and churn out runs, day in and day out, but he has shown over the last year he is very capable of doing that."

Well though Vince batted, Surrey made life easier for him than they should have done on a pitch still offering enough assistance when the ball was put in the right place. But it went in the wrong place far too often from the visitors point of view, as 136 runs in 31 overs during the morning session might suggest.

And when Surrey did create a chance, they missed it. Having been reprieved behind the stumps on the opening day, Vince was given a second life - on 44 - when edging Stuart Meaker through Jason Roy's hands at third slip.

Those blemishes apart, though, Vince was a joy to watch, missing few opportunities to drive and cut an attack featuring Jade Dernbach, Meaker and Matt Dunn.

England, it would appear, have not washed their hands of Michael Carberry just yet - or, at least, their current batting coach, Graham Gooch, is still working with the opener. Gooch, or whoever has that job through this summer, may soon be working every bit as closely with Vince before too long.

David Lloyd is a former chief cricket correspondent of PA and the Evening Standard

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on May 3, 2014, 21:45 GMT

    I personally think that Vince should be In the team for the first test against Sri Lanka his start to the season has been incredible if he keeps up this form until the first test he will become very difficult to ignore

  • Ohhhh on April 29, 2014, 18:01 GMT

    For ODIs in England, proper batmen like Vince and Bell are great choices for openers. You'd want a Hales in other conditions.

    Vince Bell(c) Taylor Morgan Ballance Bopara Buttler(wk) Stokes Broad Jordan Tredwell

    With Hales on the right surface in for Vince as opener, Root as the back up batsman, M.Ali as the back up spinner and Gurney as the back up seamer.

  • Dummy4 on April 29, 2014, 9:00 GMT

    Surprised that so many people are still pushing Cook as ODI captain. I wouldn't be shocked to see him as the Test skipper, with Morgan taking over the shorter formats. Agree that Vince should get a go with the white ball to start his England career, maybe Tests next year?

  • Paulo on April 29, 2014, 5:50 GMT

    @landl47 While I agree that Root is a better player than Vince, I feel he should be left with Yorkshire during the ODIs to score plenty of runs and find some form (and take wickets) so that he is nice and ready for the tests.

  • John on April 29, 2014, 3:18 GMT

    I've been saying for some time that Vince is a future star, but the key word there is 'future'. He didn't have a good tour of Sri Lanka with the Lions this Winter and I'd want to see him starting to score consistently at that level before putting him in with the big cats.

    He only turned 23 last month and another year of domestic and Lions cricket would be very good for him.

    CandC: Root is streets ahead of Vince at the moment, made a good 50 in tough conditions today and is developing well as a second-string spinner in limited overs formats. He should certainly be in the side ahead of Vince.

  • Paulo on April 28, 2014, 18:39 GMT

    Hence for the ODIs: 1.Cook 2.Lumb 3.Bell 4.Morgan 5.Buttler 6.Vince 7.Bopara 8.Jordan 9.Tredwell 10.Anderson 11.Gurney- Reserves: Hales, Ali, A seamer (not Bresnan, Dernbach or Rankin)

  • Paulo on April 28, 2014, 18:37 GMT

    So the top 3 should probably be Bell, Cook and Lumb.I'd open with Lumb and put Bell 3. Morgan and Buttler are definites, but the exact positions is up for debate. Bopara will probably play. This leaves one top-order place. England could go with a batsman at 4, such as Root, Taylor or Ballance. Or they could go for a finisher at 6/7, and could try someone like Hales there. They might prefer to play safe and go with an allrounder, either a genuine one like Napier, although England are more likely to chose Woakes (despite his county form with the bat and being a better red-ball than white-ball player). They might go with a riskier allrounder like Wright or Trego. Moeen Ali could also feature. I like Morgan at 4 and Buttler 5, and would consider Vince at 7.

    Jordan and Anderson are in form so should play. Broad is injured. Tredwell should play despite Kent dropping him. That leaves one bowler- probably Dernbach/Bresnan (hope not)- possibly Finn (rather not yet). Gurney? Barker?

  • Paulo on April 28, 2014, 18:26 GMT

    Personally i feel Vince should get a go in one of the white-ball sides this summer. He strikes the ball well, and scores quickly by playing proper shots. With Carberry he has formed one of the best limited-overs opening partnerships in the country (perhaps arguably as good as Lumb and Hales). Caution should be noted because of the road that the Ageas Bowl has become, but tbf he does seem to score a lot of runs away.

    However competition is large for places, and not least for top-order spaces in the ODI sides vs Sri Lanka and Scotalnd which surely have to be announced soon. Cook and Bell are old favourites who are likely to return, especially considering bothe are in good form. Michael Lumb's effort in West Indies should not be forgotten. I doubt England will give Carberry another look. Hales is also an option- arguably he would have played instead of Lumb had he been fit in the West Indies. Root scored a hundred in his last England ODI, though I would leave him with Yorkshire atm.

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