Hampshire 231 and 432 for 4 (Vince 201*, Amla 107, Rossouw 65*) drew with Somerset 506 (Hildreth 184, Bess 92, C Overton 80, Berg 5-130)
Jack Leach and James Vince arrived at the County Ground on the final day of this game with different objectives but conjoined purposes. Leach was seeking wickets to defeat Hampshire while Vince was aiming to frustrate his England colleague. Both were hoping to turn in the sort of performances to win a place in the Test squad for the opening Test of the summer. Only Vince, who made 201 not out, achieved his goal; Leach never got the chance to do so
The wheels of fortune and circumstance are rarely in easy concert with human desire. At ten o'clock, when Leach was batting in the Taunton nets, he broke his left thumb, ironically when facing his head coach, Jason Kerr, who was armed with a dog-ball thrower. Firms call these gadgets side-arms; Leach can probably see their point. His part in this match and the series against Pakistan was over.
But while Leach sat miserably on the balcony wondering when he might make his second Test appearance, Vince played the sort of gloriously patient innings which saves matches, including this one, his task made easier by the absence of Somerset's slow left-armer.
As if provoked by those who maintain he rarely manages anything more than pretty half-centuries - efforts that win fans but not Test matches - Vince produced not only the slowest century of the County Championship season so far but the longest innings of his first-class career, both in terms of minutes and balls faced. His hundred took him 324 minutes and included hardly any of the loose cover drives which, as far as Vince is concerned, are freighted with risk.
By close of play Vince had faced 437 balls, hit 28 fours and batted 514 minutes. It had been a proper innings, a monument to concentration and professional discipline. The wicket may have offered far less help than most of us anticipated on the first day but that did not lessen his achievement.
Hampshire were 432 for 4 when the players shook hands. Any chance of Somerset achieving the victory that would have left them top of the table until June had disappeared sometime before the tea interval. Were he a cricketer of vulgar temperament Vince could have cupped his ear in the manner of footballers and enquired of his critics whether that innings would do for them.
"We just had to get in and grind them down and it's pleasing to have done that," said Vince. "I still looked to score when I could but I was just making sure my defence was nice and solid. I haven't thought too much about the England selection meeting but hopefully that innings helps. It gives me belief that I can face over 400 balls if the situation occurs again."
Somerset took two wickets all day and rarely looked likely to take more on a Taunton wicket which recalled its run-stuffed past. Having batted for a mere 245 minutes, Hashim Amla was caught behind when attempting an ambitious cut to a wide bouncer from Lewis Gregory. Amla had made 107 but Vince's effort was to make his innings seem a frippery. Just before lunch Tom Alsop was taken at slip by James Hildreth off Tim Groenewald. Rilee Rossouw joined Vince and the pair had put on an undefeated 176 by the close.
As thew score mounted, Kerr was left to reflect on his part in the day. "Unfortunately, I have to take responsibility for Jack's injury," he said. "He will probably be out for around six weeks. I think I am more distraught about it than Jack. It is wretched timing when he was probably about to be selected by England again, but I know he will work hard and there is plenty of Test cricket later in the year."
Vince and Rossouw had earned the right to collect some easy runs against the part-time bowlers and they did so. The crowd's interest in the final half-hour centred on whether Vince would reach his double-hundred and whether Matt Renshaw would incur an injury by fielding closer to the wicket than Brian Close would have dared. The former was grandly achieved in game's penultimate over; the latter, thankfully, did not occur at all. Nothing overshadowed Vince this day at Taunton. The selectors have been shown what he can do. It is now up to them.