James Vince: Looking to take the Twenty20 route into England’s Test side

The batsman has had a very busy winter

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The Independent Online

It has been a more than usually busy winter for James Vince. He has made his T20 international debut, captained the England Lions, had a first taste of franchise cricket in the Pakistan Super League and now, in South Africa, faces the task of trying to nail down a starting spot ahead of England’s World T20 campaign.

After Hampshire, the county he will, from next season, skipper in all three formats, Dubai must now feel a bit like a second home, with Vince having spent most of the last four months there in some shape or form.

His protracted spell in the UAE started in impressive fashion, man of the series against Pakistan in his maiden international T20 series – all three of his innings crucial to England’s victories. 

However staying on to captain the England Lions proved more of a mixed bag for the 24-year-old, finishing the T20 series with a single figure batting average, but recovering in the five 50 over games – notching a century and finishing the series averaging just below 50. 

Preparing to play his third game of the Pakistan Super League – sitting in the Karachi Kings dugout, gloves on, bat in hand and ready for a spot of pre-match visualisation out in the middle – Vince is talking about his first steps as a franchise cricketer.

“It’s different,” he says. “Obviously I haven’t experienced this before, but I’m getting used to it as we go along and I’ve enjoyed it.”

The unfortunate recipient of a poor umpiring decision early in his first game and unable to capitalise on a start in his second knock, Vince was not the only batsman who struggled a little early on in the PSL.

“I think the standard has been pretty good, but getting used to conditions has been the main thing. It’s been slightly different to the games we played here before Christmas and using the same pitch every day is definitely a different challenge.”

In the end, Vince finished his seven games for Karachi with a top score of 44, before joining up with England in South Africa – a return he will perhaps be a little disappointed with, although it did at least provide useful experience of playing on turning pitches ahead of the World T20 in India.

It is a tournament that England go into with a sense of cautious optimism, and one that Vince, a recent addition to the side, is looking forward to.

“It would be a great tournament to be a part of. It’s been brilliant being a part of the squad,” he enthuses. “Obviously it was my first tour before Christmas out here, but it’s a great environment to play in. The players have got freedom to express themselves and I think that’s really showing in the way they’re playing in South Africa, both in the Test series and the One Dayers – so hopefully we can take that momentum into the T20s and the World Cup.”

For Vince though, the future also holds the possibility of international cricket in all three formats, a chance to add to his single ODI cap – from an ultimately rained off game against Ireland – and to make a Test debut in Trevor Bayliss’ exciting young side.

“That’s my aim yeah. I found my way in through the T20 side but hopefully I can kick on and force my way into the other formats. I think the start of the county season will be very important, if I can go back to Hampshire and get some runs there and push my name forward.”

With both Bayliss and Test captain Alastair Cook admitting there are spots up for grabs in England’s middle order this summer, this would appear the perfect time for Vince to seize his chance, although, when pressed, the 24-year-old remains admirably diplomatic on the matter.

“It’s definitely something I’d like, but I’m not going to look into it too much. Scoring runs at my county is the most important thing, so I’ll be back there for the start of the county season and hopefully put in some good performances.”

For now though Vince will be hoping for the chance to impress in the ‘solar red’ colours of England’s T20 side, and looking to extend his busy winter into spring and all the way through the international summer.