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Could Vince be the one to fill the void left by Pietersen's exit
JAMES Vince has already been earmarked as a future England Test batsman.
The Hampshire player, 22, is currently in Sri Lanka with the England Lions squad.
Along with several others, he might now be a bit closer to a first Test call-up.
Today he gets another chance to show the selectors what he can do.
As the dust starts to settle on the decision to end Kevin Pietersen’s international career, one thing is obvious.
There are a handful of positions up for grabs in the England top order going into this summer’s first Test series against Sri Lanka.
Jonathan Trott’s absence and the doubts surrounding Vince’s county colleague Michael Carberry’s Test future could ensure an unfamiliar-looking top five come May.
Captain Alistair Cook and Ian Bell - the veterans of 103 and 98 Tests respectively – are shoe-ins to face Sri Lanka.
They will provide the experience, but who could join them in the top five?
Joe Root, with 15 Test caps, is unlikely to be jettisoned as the inquests continue into England’s Ashes nightmare.
Root’s Yorkshire colleague Gary Ballance is likely to stay at five for the first Test against Sri Lanka.
The Zimbabwe-born batsman has the highest first class average of any of the men most likely to benefit from Pietersen and Trott’s absence.
Ballance was brought in at No 5 for the final Ashes Test, so it would be stupid in the extreme to drop him straight away.
Carberry’s immediate future must be shrouded in doubt, even though his Ashes scores were better than some of his more illustrious and experienced colleagues.
At 33, he is not one for the future. The selectors have to weigh up, though, whether they need another experienced campaigner alongside Cook and Bell in the top five.
Middlesex’s Australian-born opener Sam Robson has been busy winning compliments in the past 12 months.
The 24-year-old did has chances no harm earlier this week with 120 in the second innings of England Lions’ match against Sri Lanka Emerging Players in Colombo.
Vince, batting at No 5 in that game, made just four in each innings.
A second Lions match against the same opponents was due to start today.
At 22, Vince is the youngest batsman of those considered most likely to be next on the Test scene.
As the panel on this page shows, he also has the lowest first class average of 37.20.
Prior to last season, Vince’s most impressive displays for Hampshire had come in limited overs contests.
But he passed 50 11 times in 23 first class innings in 2013, scoring five centuries - including three in the closing three weeks of the season.
That was a large improvement on passing 50 just twice in 19 first class innings in 2012.
Another factor which could count against Vince at the moment, even if he was to start the new domestic season in the same vein he finished the last one, is the fact he is playing in the second tier of the Championship.
The likes of Robson, Root, Ballance and James Taylor are all top tier cricketers.
Alternatively, could Eoin Morgan win a recall? The 27-year-old does not boast a great first class batting average, but he offers a bit more experience, having won the last of his 16 Test caps two years ago this month.
After all, there are only so many young-ish, relatively untried (at Test level) batsmen you can throw in at once, even if there remains an experienced spine.
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