James Vince has impressed his Sydney Sixers coach so much he is held up as a template of how to bat for the club’s youngsters.
The Sixers take on Melbourne Stars in Australia’s Big Bash final on Saturday morning, thanks in no small part to the impact of a batsman who last played a Test for England in April 2018.
Vince has scored 321 runs at a strike rate of almost 127 in this year’s tournament, and Sixers coach Greg Shipperd says Vince has what it takes to make an impact in international cricket despite his modest record across all formats to date.
‘He’s a beautiful player on the eye and has played some really strategically important innings for us,’ Shipperd told Sportsmail.
‘His strike rate has been outstanding, he has been terrific for us. If I’m talking to our young batters I tell them that if you want a visual interpretation of how to play an off-drive or a back-foot punch or produce strokes, then there’s no better technique in the game than his.
‘It’s surprising not to see him having banked a spot for his country, but I can’t think of too many better.
‘If he keeps plugging on, which I’m sure he’s going to because he’s still relatively young, then he could do a Joe Denly, who also came out of our group prior to James coming in. Joe has found a niche in the national team and I’d encourage James to think along the same lines.’
Denly got his first Test cap at the age of 32 but has become a fixture in Joe Root’s side.
Vince has hinted at his promise, most notably in the opening Test of the 2017-18 series in Brisbane when he scored a beautifully-crafted 83 before being run out. His most recent Test innings saw a score of 76 against New Zealand at Christchurch, but the selectors have shown no inclination to pick him in the longest format since.
An improved display by England’s batsmen in South Africa, and the emergence of Ollie Pope, means Vince faces an uphill battle to change their mind before the summer.
But Shipperd has been hugely impressed by him on and off the pitch. ‘He has had a big influence in the dressing room too,’ he said. ‘He shares his knowledge well. He’s a deep thinker with a great cricket brain.’
Vince narrowly missed coming up against a familiar figure in today’s final, with Alex Hales’ Sydney Thunder losing in the semi-final to the Stars.
Like the Hampshire captain, Hales is one of England’s forgotten men but might have jogged a few memories during the Big Bash.
He flies home having scored 576 runs – the second highest total in the competition. His strike rate of almost 147 also places him in elite company in the tournament. Both he and Vince will hope that England have taken note.