JAMES Vince returns to Hampshire duty today hoping to keep the county in contention for a place in the Royal London One-Day Cup quarter-finals.
The 23-year-old is available for his first county match since arguably the best innings of his Hampshire career for the must-win penultimate Group A game against Essex at Chelmsford this afternoon (2pm start).
Vince has been on England Lions duty since his epic, match-winning 93 not out in the T20 Blast quarter-final against Nottinghamshire ten days ago.
But he has struggled to hit those heights for the Lions and finished the 50-over triangular series against the A sides of Sri Lanka and New Zealand on a disappointing note yesterday.
He was out for 15 (13 balls, two fours, one six) against New Zealand A, following scores of one, ten and 32, to finish with an aggregate of 58 and an average of 14.5 from the four games.
Vince may well already have done enough this season to have earned an England debut in the one-day series that begins against India later this month.
But he has been outscored over the last week by Lions teammates Jonny Bairstow, Alex Hales, Jason Roy, James Taylor and Ravi Bopara – who he is expected to face at Chelmsford.
Hampshire will be out of the One-Day Cup if they lose today, but they have reason to hope.
Gone are the days when the Ford County Ground was a bogey ground for Hampshire.
They have won their last three limited-overs games there, including a vital T20 win under Vince’s captaincy only three weeks ago.
It was also against Essex that Vince scored his career-best 240 in the LV County Championship earlier this season.
But to have a chance of qualifying for the last eight Hampshire will have to beat the two form teams in Group A.
Essex went level on points with leaders Yorkshire following an impressive five-wicket win at Scarborough on Monday, where they chased down 291 thanks to centuries from Tom Westley and Ryan Ten Doeschate, after David Masters had taken 4-34.
Provided they win today, Hampshire’s faint quarter-final hopes will be boosted further if Gloucestershire and Yorkshire beat Worcestershire and Derbyshire tonight.
Hampshire’s final group game is against Yorkshire at The Ageas Bowl a week tomorrow. But they have left former Essex wicketkeeper Adam Wheater out of today’s 13-man squad. Wheater has just served a two-match ban for his show of dissent after being given out caught behind against Leicestershire last week.
Hampshire (from): Vince, Carberry, Terry, Adams, Smith, Dawson, Ervine, Coles, Bates, Wood, Briggs, Tomlinson, Akram.