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James Vince had a summer to forget last year as he only managed to score 212 runs at an average that was a shade above 19.
As a result of his inconsistent performance with the bat, the 26-year-old was dropped. But, despite the setback, Vince is confident that he has what it takes to succeed in the longest format of the game. But, the question of everyone’s mind is whether he is out of his depth at the international level.
Vince has failed to register a fifty in the seven Tests he has played to date, which doesn’t bode well for a man who wants to become an anchor in the middle order.
Nonetheless, Vince is doing all the right things to keep himself on the selectors’ radar as he scored an unbeaten 125 against the United Arab Emirates in the ongoing ECB North vs South series on Wednesday.
Having started on the right foot prior to the upcoming county season, Vince acknowledged that he cannot afford to take his foot off the pedal where runs are concerned as it could end up costing him big time.
“It (last summer) was good and bad,” Vince, who plays for Hampshire on the county circuit, told The Independent. “It was great to be involved obviously and play but I don’t think I performed as well as I could. It has given me a taste of it and now that I have had a winter off it gives me that extra drive to get back into the side.
“The one-day side are playing really well and that’s a really tough side to try and get into. I’ve got to do some heavy run-scoring with Hampshire before I get back in the fold but I guess opportunities like this (the North v South series) are great in making sure that if someone gets injured or someone is out of form that you’re the next one in line.
“In terms of four-day stuff, I’m really looking forward to trying to get some runs on board. I need to have a good summer to get my name back in the fold.”
Last summer, Vince’s technique was closely scrutinised by numerous people from bowlers to pundits in the commentary box, but he pointed out that if he had gone on to make a few big scores, all those remarks about his technique would have faded to the background.
Furthermore, even though he wasn’t able to make the most of his encouraging starts, the Sussex native insisted that he never felt “completely out of my depth”.
“I had a few starts and that was probably the difference between having a half-decent summer and the one I ended up having,” he added. “When I did get in, I got to 30 or 40 and then got out. Had I converted one of those to a hundred, or even just two of them into 70 or 80, then I would probably have had different outlook on how things went.
“I certainly didn’t feel that if I had carried on playing I would never have scored a run. I didn’t feel completely out of my depth, I just wasn’t capitalising when I was playing well and getting in.
“The scrutiny is huge and once someone says something once in the media everyone jumps on it. It’s different from anything else I’ve experienced before but the margins are pretty small.
“Like I said, if I had converted a couple of those starts then maybe people would have focused a bit more on the positive stuff. If you’re not scoring heavily, though, you’re going to get criticised. I suppose that’s one of the reasons Test cricket is harder. If you get another chance you’re more aware of what’s coming your way.”
Having had the opportunity to work with Hampshire prior to Christmas and after his stint at the Big Bash League (BBL) in Australia, Vince admitted that he is ready for the challenges that await him in the forthcoming county season.
“I haven’t really had a winter where I’ve been able to work on my game with Hampshire,” he said. “I had block before Christmas and a block after the Big Bash (Vince played three matches for the Sydney Thunder) where I’ve been able to work on the areas of my game that I think I needed to work on. I’m feeling good.”