IT is only a matter of time before James Vince is playing for England.
That was the verdict of Hampshire’s director of cricket, Giles White, after the county’s new vice-captain continued his stunning start to the season with another brisk hundred, against Surrey at The Ageas Bowl.
Only 31 overs were possible on the second day of Hampshire’s latest LV County Championship match, following torrential rain during the lunch interval.
But that was enough time for Vince, who was on 24 overnight, to reach 118 (from only 126 balls) as Hampshire took their first-innings total to 289-3 after resuming on 153-2.
There is no better sight in county cricket than Vince in full flow and he continued his imperious form by lighting up an overcast morning with some scintillating strokeplay against the pre-season promotion favourites.
He was dropped on seven by wicketkeeper Steven Davies and was also put down by third-slip Jason Roy on 44.
But other than that he did not offer a chance and reached the 12th first-class hundred of his career – and his fifth in eight Championship matches - from only 102 balls.
Vince already has 400 runs for the season, at an average of 133.3 and a sensational strike rate of 85.8, after going past England captain Alastair Cook to become the second division’s top scorer this season.
Only Warwickshire’s Ian Bell has scored more (405 at 81) in the Championship this season.
Vince will surely be playing alongside Cook and Bell for his country before too long.
He is already well on the way to bettering last season’s career-best aggregate of 1,101 runs at 61.
The 23 year-old has since scored worked closely with Graham Gooch and Mark Ramprakash during his winter with the England Performance Programme in Australia and the England Lions in Australia. “Last season he was fantastic and he’s carried that on,” said White.
“He looks at a different level to other players, he looks every bit a potential England player and has done for a season or so now.
“If he keeps on putting these performances in he’ll be knocking loudly on that door. He has the potential to go all the way.
“A year ago, I would have said he was very much a one-day player but I feel he’s found a method that holds him in good stead as a four-day player as well.
“As a young Twenty20 player he stepped up straight away. First-class cricket has taken him slightly longer but in the last couple of years he’s shown his credentials for this form of the game too.
“He changed his technique two years ago, when [batting coach] Tony Middleton did a lot of work with him, changing the way he sets up and his lining up of the ball.
“He’s reaped the rewards from that, he has a very straightforward method that he executes well.”
Vince was likened to Michael Vaughan by former England coach Duncan Fletcher soon after breaking into the first team five years ago.
But that has not been a burden and he has thrived on the responsibility of being Hampshire’s vice-captain this season.
“Elevation to the vice-captaincy and more managerial responsibilities are testament to the maturity he’s shown over the last couple of years,” added White.