JAMES Vince completed a dream weekend by inspiring Hampshire to a second T20 Blast win in three days – 24 hours after celebrating QPR’s promotion to the Premier League.
Hampshire’s T20 captain made a fabulous 68 (38 balls, ten fours, two sixes) after losing the toss as Middlesex were beaten by 47 runs in the first-ever county match to be played at Merchant Taylors’ School, Northwood.
Vince, who was at Wembley to see his beloved QPR beat Derby County on Saturday, made his second 25-ball 50 in three days after losing the toss, as Hampshire made 198-2.
England’s capitulation against Sri Lanka has surely hastened Vince’s international debut, but for now Hampshire are enjoying him very much.
He got off to a rapid start, pulling and driving four successive fours during Steve Finn’s first over.
The first of his sixes was soon sailing over long-off against James Harris.
A Finn beamer that forced him to take evasive action proved the most effective way of stopping him during the powerplay, which yielded a healthy 77-0 (Vince made 49).
He received excellent support from Jimmy Adams, whose 26-ball 38 included a swept six against Middlesex captain Dan Christian, his former Hampshire teammate (and runner at the end of the unforgettable 2010 final).
Vince's second six, over mid-wicket against Ravi Patel, ensured that Hampshire were 109-1 at half and on course for their highest T20 total.
Thanks to the efforts of slow left-armer Patel, that remains the 225-2 Hampshire made against Middlesex at The Rose Bowl in 2006.
Patel had Adams stumped and Vince caught at long-off for in successive overs. No matter, Owais Shah showed why he was signed.
His wristy 49 not out (26 balls) included three fours and as many sixes; two in succession against Ollie Rayner’s off-spin and a hooked maximum against the hapless Finn.
The former Middlesex batsman shared 79 from the last 51 balls of the innings with Wheater, who was an effective foil with an unbeaten 30 from 33 balls, which included a driven straight six against Christian.
Middlesex looked like they might put up a fight when Paul Stirling and Dawid Malan took 57 off the powerplay.
But Danny Briggs (3-20) began another outstanding spell with a diving return catch to see off Malan with the first ball of the seventh over.
When Vince continued a fine afternoon by catching the dangerous Stirling at long-off for a 21-ball 40, Hampshire were firmly in the ascendancy.
Only a first-ball beamer from Sean Ervine blotted this performance.
Hampshire’s spinners were excellent once again. Will Smith’s off-spin is the find of the tournament and slow left-armer Briggs is showing why he is one of the leading wicket takers in domestic T20 competition.
Between them they accounted for five of the top seven. Chris Wood and Kyle Abbott soon returned to complete the rout.
Next up for Hampshire are two T20 Blast visits from the south division's only unbeaten teams, Essex this Friday and Kent on June 5.
Michael Carberry and Glenn Maxwell are expected to be back for Kent's visit which will mean some difficult decisions for Vince, director of cricket Giles White and coach Dale Benkenstein.