Magnificent Vince hasn’t finished
James Vince has banished a year to forget after his standout 143* performance today at the Ageas Bowl. The stand-in Hampshire skipper recorded his nineteenth first-class century, his first in just over a year, as Hampshire made use of a more-than-helpful track to compile 281-4 on the first day at home to Yorkshire.
However the south coast county cannot afford to be satisfied with their day’s efforts. This pitch isn’t wearing down anytime soon and with a handful of Test calibre batsmen to have a crack of the whip come Yorkshire’s first innings, Hampshire should look to be targeting 400 plus.
It has been a remarkable performance from Vince today, however he can’t merely rest on the achievements of Day One for two reasons.
1) While it is rare to have a faultless century, Vince’s fallibility for the boundary ball is county cricket’s worst kept secret. He loves to score runs and while this in itself is indeed the aim of the game, Vince often gets out through ill-discipline: chasing a wide one or playing one shot too many.
He was dropped on 39 because he had a go at one that he never should have thrown his hands at; and it so easily could have been taken. On most other days he would have been out. And for another failure: Vince did not flourish at Test level last summer because of his weakness for the wide one and was lucky to get a lifeline today.
2) What he should also be aware of is that Hampshire still needs to post a much bigger score if they want to compete. Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow will most likely have a field day on this track. Tomorrow he should be looking to start from scratch.
A good player will take his hundred and leave. A better play will ram the missed chance down his opponent’s throat and make they rue it come Monday. He has already produced a captain’s knock but can he get one that tips this game in his side’s favour?
An Englishman’s dream is a cricket field
While Vince will rightly hog most of the limelight over the next few days for his remarkable century, one of the most positive team aspects, as far as Hampshire is concerned, came from the captain’s spritely partnership with fellow countryman Tom Alsop.
The pair put on 82 together for the third wicket after Jimmy Adams was dismissed with the first ball after lunch.
The England Lion, having been dropped by Hampshire at the start of the season following a poor run of form in the preseason, seemed to feel like he had something to prove. He got off the mark with two crisp drives down the ground from his first three balls facing Ben Coad.
He seemed to be emulating his skipper’s scoring habits, and continued in a similar vein throughout his innings. Indeed 32 of his 40 runs came from boundaries.
Mason Crane’s absence was again somewhat of a disappointment, but given the condition of the pitch, picking two spinners would have been as ridiculous as selecting Michael Carberry based on his off-spin bowling from the draw with Middlesex.
A proper toil in the field
It wasn’t a bad performance for Yorkshire’s bowling attack by any means. It was always going to be an uphill battle given the road that had been prepared, inevitably with a draw in mind.
Yorkshire’s decision to bowl was the right call as the gloomy skies refused to clear during the entirety of the day’s proceedings. But the lateral movement was as good as it got with the movement off the deck virtually non-existent.
The bowlers actually did well to create the angles in a desperate attempt to get the left-handers to nick the ball that shaped away. The opening combination of Coad’s subtle in-swing and David Willey’s boomerang away swing provided an excellent examination of self-control, and one in which both Carberry and Vince failed on.
However the latter was to be reprieved from his hotheaded slash as Adam Lyth spilled the edge at second slip when the Hampshire skipper was only on 39. It was a toil from then on in the field.
The one criticism that could be made for Yorkshire’s bowling lineup is that it wasn’t penetrative enough. Hampshire seemed comfortable in much of the afternoon and evening sessions. There was no real plan from Steven Patterson or Willey other than put it in the same spot over and over again. They didn’t seem to have an alternative approach when that didn’t work.
Yorkshire’s most recent revelation is having the time of his life. He took three of the four wickets today to add to his already burgeoning collection: the tally is now at 21.
The young fast bowler was looking the complete package. Every part of his delivery had one clear purpose: to produce power and accuracy. Not one stride was out of sync; his run-up seemingly a pre-determined course that the delivery soon would take, arcing ever so slightly in, almost like his body was instructing the ball of what to do: cricket’s version of a snake-charmer’s dance.
His will was bestowed upon the ball. He produced a seriously testing spell of in-swing and tight corridor bowling: the nagging line that waits for a mistake to be made. At the end of his first eight overs, Hampshire were 32-1 off 17 overs.
Those that have seen Yorkshire in these past three weeks are full of gushing praise with the general consensus that England duty beckons for this young man if things are to continue. However while he is indeed a very good county prospect, it isn’t yet clear whether he could make the lofty heights of International cricket. He will still have to quicken up to pose the same threat.