JAMES Vince will become Hampshire’s youngest professional captain when he leads the county into a new era at The Ageas Bowl tonight.
The 23 year-old will replace Mark Nicholas as Hampshire’s youngest post-war skipper when he captains the county for the first time in the inaugural Natwest T20 Blast – starting against Glamorgan (7pm).
Jimmy Adams, Hampshire’s captain in the LV County Championship and the new 50-over competition, believes Vince is the right man to replace Dimi Mascarenhas.
“You could argue it might be a fraction early but it’s about future planning more than anything,” he said.
“I think it will be a good test for him and I think he’ll rise to it. He’s got a lot of good qualities and a lot of qualities that probably need a bit of development but you’re only going to do that if you get an opportunity.
“We’ve asked Vincey to do it for good reason, it will be a good challenge for him. He’s in a good place at the moment and it will be nice for me to solely concentrate on hitting the ball!”
Most of Vince’s captaincy experience has been in age-group cricket for Wiltshire and, on a few occasions, for the Hampshire academy before his first-class debut in 2009.
Last week’s friendly against Dorset was washed out so his only captaincy experience for Hampshire was against Barbados during pre-season.
Asked if he has always seen Vince as a future Hampshire captain, Adams said: “Probably not always, no. But he’s matured in his cricket and himself in the last two years. I think he’ll go well.”
If required, Adams will be a useful sounding board for Vince, as will the equally experienced Michael Carberry, Will Smith and Sean Ervine.
“There will be a few of us, it’s getting the balance right between helping him out and being in his ear too much,” continued Adams.
“If he wants advice I’ll give it a crack but I certainly won’t be in his ear all the time. He’ll be a good captain.”
Adams believes the T20 formula makes it the perfect format for the start of Vince’s captaincy career.
“In the Championship there’s more time to think which I find doesn’t always help! Things happen so quick in t20 but the guys already know the fields the bowlers want and I think that will be a help for him.”
The one downside to Vince’s elevation to the captaincy is that his outstanding boundary fielding is unlikely to be a feature of Hampshire’s campaign this year.
“He’s one of our best fielders and has done a lot of miles at long-on and long-off but we’ll probably lose him outside the ring,” added Adams. “He’ll probably have to be in the ring with the bowlers but will still do a good job there.”
Given Hampshire’s recent T20 success (the 2010 and 2012 champions can become the first side to reach five successive Finals Days this year) and the additions of Kyle Abbott, Matt Coles and Glenn Maxwell, who is likely to arrive fresh from his Indian Premier League heroics in three weeks’ time, there is no reason why they cannot continue to enjoy success under Vince, despite the loss of Mascarenhas and Neil McKenzie.
“When we add Maxi to the squad we’re as strong as we’ve been,” added Adams.