James Vince has had a summer to remember after being the top-scorer in the County Championship and helping Hampshire to the Division Two title. And it could now be time for Peter Moores and Alastair Cook to call him up to the national team.
While there are still six months to wait until England embark on another Test series, it’s never too early to start considering how to strengthen the side further.
And with Sam Robson’s name absent from the list of players awarded central contracts with the ECB, a slot at the very top of the order could be the best place for the Hampshire vice-captain.
The 23-year-old was in inspired form throughout last season, accumulating more than 2,000 runs in all competitions.
Vince scored 1,525 of those in the County Championship as he ended the campaign as the highest scorer amongst all 18 counties.
Only two Division Two players – Moeen Ali and Ravi Bopara – have been handed Test debuts since 2006 so Hampshire’s promotion to the top tier of English four-day cricket could increase Vince’s chances of earning a call-up to the senior squad.
For now it seems as though he will spend another winter touring with the England Lions, who are due to travel to South Africa in January.
Vince is a player in high demand though, and is wanted by Hampshire coach Dale Benkenstein to join South African club Natal. The chance to play abroad could help the youngster develop even more as a player.
The right-hander has already toured Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Australia with the Lions and it is perhaps just a matter of time before he makes his Test bow.
We are in the midst of a transitional time for the England cricket team with six new players winning their maiden central contracts following impressive performances this summer.
However, one admission from those that signed deals was Sam Robson. The Middlesex opener scored a century in just his second Test, but was unable to cement his place in the side.
As a result, there is currently a void at the top of the order – alongside captain Alastair Cook – that needs filling, and Vince could be just the man.
The Ageas Bowl club’s new T20 captain guided Hampshire to a fifth consecutive Final’s Day appearance this year. But aside from his captaincy potential, the batsman is a prolific procurer of runs, averaging over 60 in four-day cricket in 2014.
Duncan Fletcher has likened his batting style to Michael Vaughan, and his cool and calm temperament would be a good fit in the England dressing room.
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