AT their best, they form Hampshire’s most dynamic opening partnership since Barry Richards and Gordon Greenidge.
So do not be surprised if Michael Carberry and James Vince light up Natwest T20 Blast Finals Day tomorrow.
With 414 runs at 34.5 and a healthy strike rate of 133 after hitting form when it mattered most, Carberry is Hampshire’s top T20 run scorer this year, while Vince (398 at 30.6) rediscovered his early-season mojo in the quarter-final win at Trent Bridge.
But before blitzing 70 at ten an over in the epic run chase against Notts, Vince and Carberry had struggled to rediscover the synergy that made them so irresistible in unison last year.
A modest aggregate of 130 runs, at an average of 10.9, was their sum total from 12 T20 opening partnerships before Carberry’s 21-ball 31 helped set the tone for Hampshire’s win at Trent Bridge, where Vince made his career-best 93 not out (51 balls).
Now the right-hand/left-hand opening combo is preparing to take on the county that was on the end of their most memorable T20 alliance.
It was in last season’s quarter-final thriller against Lancashire at The Ageas Bowl that Carberry shared a stand of 110 in just ten overs with Vince before reaching the first T20 century of his career in a one-run win.
A similar result at Edgbaston tomorrow afternoon would be Boys’ Own stuff for the pair, who both played in Hampshire’s two previous T20 final successes in 2010 and 2012.
“Either Vincey’s got runs and I haven’t or vice versa, but it’s very hard to go through a whole season in England scoring runs all the time,” said Carberry, whose opening partnership with Vince only began last season.
“I had a slower start to the tournament this year, starting earlier made it a lot tougher up front with the new ball nibbling around and people have bowled well against us at times.
“It only takes a couple of good nuts flying around up top and runs become a little harder to come by and people do their homework, which is part of the game.
“Vincey’s led the group well without being as prolific as he would probably have liked, but he’s still learning and bounced back brilliantly at Notts.
“We had to bat well to get the team off to a good start there and Vincey’s knock would have to rate as one of the best innings I’ve seen considering the pressure of the occasion, being away from home in front of a big crowd against a Notts team at full strength with a lot of experience.
“He’s definitely good enough for England and his time will come, but for selfish reasons it’s good to be batting with him for Hampshire!”
Carberry’s fading hopes of an England recall were dealt another blow when he was left out of the squad for next week’s ODI series against India.
“England have made it clear they’ve moved on, Hampshire’s my focus now and we’ve got a great chance to win [LV County Championship] promotion as well as Finals Day,” he continued.
Vince and Carberry may never get the chance to bat together for their country but they could well face an England great tomorrow in James Anderson, who is available along with Jos Buttler, while Andrew Flintoff is a major doubt because of injury.
“I’ve been privileged to play with and against Jimmy but people can reel off all the names, we’ll just be focused on the ball,” added Carberry.
“We’ve gone through a transitional period this year, I still don’t think we’ve played at our full potential yet, and that’s saying something when we’ve made Finals Day for the fifth time.”
Michael Carberry was speaking at a NatWest branch ahead of NatWest T20 Blast Finals Day this Saturday. NatWest are proud sponsors of T20 cricket from grassroots to the top of the professional game.. To find out more, go to natwest.com/cricket.