Hampshire 361-4 (Adams 144, Vince 104) vs Surrey
Eleven months ago James Vince trudged off at The Oval. He had made one and nought in the match as Pakistan levelled a thrilling Test series. It was a performance that convinced the England selectors that, after an initiation to Test cricket marked by some gorgeous offside shots but plenty more injudicious ones, and seven matches that failed to produce a solitary half-century, they would have to look elsewhere to add solidity to their middle order.
On his return to The Oval, Vince produced a perfect distillation of both why England picked him and why they then dropped him. First, the good. And there was much that was very, very good: above all that sumptuous drive through the offside, a shot so picturesque and pure that it would have been cherished by cricket lovers a hundred years ago and will, whatever the shape of the game, surely be savoured a century hence too.
There was much else to behold too: the cuts, hit anywhere between third man and extra cover, which require no foot movement to locate any small vacancy in the offside field; the efficient clips whenever a ball wandered onto his pads; and, more than anything, the abiding sense of a batsman playing in a spirit of merriment.
It was certainly too much for Surrey, as was a second, less elegant but equally effective Hampshire century-maker Jimmy Adams, as they came to terms with three Royal London final defeats in a row.
For all the purity of Vince's shot-making there is always a slightly ethereal sense to his batting, too; his supreme shot-making is imbued with jeopardy. Which brings us to the bad. It was not so much his dismissal, flashing behind for 104 - Vince had just made a century, after all - as the copious hints of what was to come that preceded it. After a rollicking square cut to move to 98 off Tom Curran, Vince almost fell in consecutive balls attempting to repeat the shot. Seldom has a plan from the opposition been so unsubtly telegraphed, but it did not need to be any more covert for Vince to oblige.
Still, watching Vince's 19 boundaries had been a treat - if not for Surrey's bowlers, then for all but the most partisan spectators, as well as his partner in a third-wicket alliance of 161. "Vince was very hard to bowl at today," Adams said. "You feel a little inadequate at times the way he leans into the ball."
Even after being afforded a 25-over headstart, Adams was still beaten to his half-century and then hundred by Vince. Yet the roundhead ended up outscoring the cavalier by a full 40 runs.
Adams's innings was always pervaded with altogether more permanence than Vince's contribution. If it was defined by an austere spirit until lunch, which he took with only 24 to his name, Adams showcased some delightful driving thereafter, using his feet with alacrity against Amar Virdi's offspin, and thrashing anything that offered offside width. It came as a matter of considerable surprise when Virdi had the satisfaction of uprooting Adams' offstump in the final over of the day.
Still, that could scarcely dilute Hampshire's satisfaction; Adams professed that the team were "delighted", all the more after enduring a tetchy morning. Surrey's new ball bowling combined discipline and swing, and they could well have claimed more than two wickets - Lewis McManus bowled by a wonderful late-swinging yorker from Sam Curran, and Rilee Rossouw slashing the elder Curran to second slip - before lunch.
But as the evening shadows extended at The Oval, Surrey, notwithstanding the flat pitch, increasingly looked what they were: a slightly patched up attack comprising three teenagers, a 22-year-old who has long been accustomed to being the leader of the attack and a senior bowler who, for all the threat he can pose, bowled wides on both sides of the wicket.
Both Virdi, playing in lieu of skipper Gareth Batty, who has a calf strain and Conor McKerr, preferred to senior bowlers Jade Dernbach, Stuart Meaker and Ravi Rampaul, were attacked under the afternoon sun; the Currans were admirable and indefatigable; and, for Mark Footitt, this was not one of those days when it all clicks. How Surrey seemed in need of a reliable and gnarled senior pace bowler, who could double as an on-field bowling coach: think Ryan Sidebottom, Glen Chapple, Alan Richardson or, a little further back, Surrey's own Martin Bicknell.
The upshot was that, two days after a 50-over cup final defeat that is rapidly taking on the feel of unwanted summer ritual, Surrey had little to cheer. The absence of Kumar Sangakkara, who has split webbing in his hand, invites the question of whether the coming days at The Oval will be equally taxing.