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April 28, 2014
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 StandardFeeds: David Lloyd
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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