James Vince already has a 50-over World Cup winners’ medal in his possession and he is hoping a productive series in New Zealand can firm up his chances of having a crack at another in T20 cricket after being named Man of the Match in the series opener in Christchurch.
Vince stroked 59 off 38 balls to set up England’s chase in the first T20I, seizing his opportunity to bat at No. 3 in the absence of several first-choice players. It was his maiden T20I fifty, coming almost four years since his debut, and a reminder of his talents after a summer in which he was part of the World Cup squad but managed a top-score of 43 from seven white-ball innings for England.
With England resting Jason Roy, Joe Root, Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and Moeen Ali, Vince has a window in which to build on a decent, if sporadic, T20I record. He has reached double-figures in all nine of his outings, but has only played five times since the last T20 World Cup, in 2016.
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“The side’s been so successful and dominant over the last three or four years, it’s a tough first XI to break into,” Vince said. “But any opportunities like this to push my case and hopefully try to be part of the squad, as I was this summer for the World Cup, is my aim.
“With some of the main guys missing, it would be nice to get a bit of a run in the side, post some scores and make some match-winning contributions.”
Capped in all three formats, Vince has yet to fully establish himself in an England side and he only won a recall to the ODI set-up ahead of the World Cup after Alex Hales was dropped for disciplinary issues. He featured three times during the tournament, scoring 26, 14 and 0 while covering for the injured Roy; he also claimed two catches as a substitute during England’s memorable win in the final against New Zealand.
“To be honest, since the end of the English summer I’ve not had a huge amount of cricket,” he said. “I had a warm-up game and a bit of time in the nets but I wasn’t quite sure what nick I was in. But I’m pleased with the contribution and for the boys to get off to a winning start.
“The wicket was pretty good, I didn’t think it was an absolute belter but there was not much in there, maybe a fraction on the slow side but a pretty true bounce, it came on reasonably well for the majority of it.”
Although Vince was unable to seal the chase himself, victory in Christchurch was wrapped up by Eoin Morgan and Sam Billings, as an experimental England side got off to an encouraging start. Despite speculation that Morgan might retire after securing the goal of winning a 50-over World Cup, his decision to continue playing ensures continuity as England switch focus to T20 under a new head coach in Chris Silverwood.
Morgan’s presence will also be important as England look to asses a number of young players who might push for inclusion in Australia next year, with Sam Curran and Pat Brown among three debutants at Hagley Oval.
“What he’s built over the last four years is incredible,” Vince said of Morgan. “To take the team from where they were to winning the World Cup, I know he’d be a massive loss if he wasn’t here, especially with a tour like this with lots of new guys coming in.
“His leadership is outstanding so he’ll be great for the young guys here. Everyone’s hoping that he carries on for as long as possible.”
Although he has not been involved in the Test side since England’s last tour of New Zealand, in 2017-18, an ankle injury suffered in training by Joe Denly has opened up the possibility that Vince could be asked to stay on for the two-match series at the end of November.
“I think I’ve said it before, although it is a different format, runs in an England shirt are always going to help you,” he said. “It’s a good start and hopefully I can build on it and continue throughout the series and try to make an impact on it myself.”
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