Vince hundred states England claims
England Lions 260 (Rashid 68, Lyth 65) and 402 for 7 dec (Vince 152*, Trott 53) drew with South Africa A 421 (de Bruyn 161, Bavuma 102, Ontong 54, Rankin 4-78)
James Vince, whose talent and in particular the excellence of his cover driving is not in question, is that much closer to playing for England. His unbeaten 152, made in considerable heat against a competitive attack, enabled England Lions to draw the second first-class fixture on this short tour of South Africa. The only pity was that no third match had been scheduled to follow two contests that were called off around tea-time on the final day.
The other significance for English cricket in general was that Jonathan Trott, who now flies home to Birmingham and then on to Florida on a family holiday, went, at the conclusion of the match, further than before in terms of his view about resuming his England career. He has, after all, made a double century at Paarl and a half century here, looking, all the while, fit and enjoying his cricket. "I felt in August when playing for Warwickshire that my game was coming back to play for England. I'd love that opportunity to do so," he said.
The Lions had a slender lead, 51, at the start of play with six wickets intact. Graham Thorpe, England's lead batting coach, reckoned that if they were still batting at lunchtime after a two and a half hour morning session, they had a fair chance of securing a draw. They did that and more. Jonny Bairstow went early, edging Rory Kleinveldt to Rudi Second, whose wicketkeeping in this series has been far from ideal. Now, though, he held a neat catch in front of first slip.
That was 227 for 5, 66 on, which meant that, on a pitch of increasingly variable bounce, Vince had to progress beyond a century. He drove Chris Morris to the cover boundary, the ball skimming away down the slope as all his drives seem to do. Dropped for a second time in this innings by Stiaan van Zyl, who was bowling medium pace, he then bisected the off-side ring once again. This textbook shot off Kagiso Rabanda took him to 99.
Surprisingly, given that Justin Ontong is an astute captain, Dane Piedt then bowled the next over with mid on pushed back, allowing Vince a single to complete his first century at this level, and his 15th in first-class cricket, off 196 balls with 16 fours. The new ball was promptly taken - and was quickly dispatched by Adil Rashid to the extra cover boundary and by Vince to long on. Kleinveldt and the impressive Morris had both had reasonably lengthy spells at the start of the day, which, in a session lengthened to make up for time lost in the thunderstorm the previous afternoon, was not ideal.
So the new ball was seen off. At least it was until Rashid, having made 32, edged Rabada to first slip. Liam Plunkett, not one to bother about a sighter, belted the same bowler for two successive fours before he was bowled by a fine off cutter from Morris, but Mark Wood, who gives the appearance of being able to develop into an allrounder, gave Vince invaluable support.
Wood, whose bowling has impressed South Africa A, pulled Morris for four and then steered the next ball over the slips to the third man boundary. Vince, not be outdone, swept Piedt for six and, in bringing up his 150 with 22 fours, also took the Lions total to 400. The 12th man had been on and off with drinks and, no doubt, messages for the batsmen. The upshot was that stumps were drawn at 2.45, before tea, which was probably just as well for Wood, who had wrenched a shoulder in executing his favoured pull. Vince finished with 152 from 292 balls and a reputation enhanced. No bad thing to make your first century for the Lions in front of Graham Thorpe.