Vince dominates again as Northants are put under early pressure at Hampshire

James Vince was finally dismissed at the Ageas Bowl after again dominating Northamptonshire with an expert 95 in the LV=Insurance County Championship.
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Hampshire captain Vince had clocked up 232 runs in 514 minutes since he was last dismissed at the Ageas Bowl, while he has now passed 50 in four of his last five Championship innings.

The batter, who had dismayed Northamptonshire with 186 at Wantage Road last month, mixed grit with his typically stylish stroke play to help his side to 331 for six at close.

Around Vince, Fletcha Middleton impressed with 40 and Ben Brown with 44 before Liam Dawson chalked up 56 not out.

James Vince was in fine form once againJames Vince was in fine form once again
James Vince was in fine form once again

With the ball, James Sales was the pick with two for 32, while Jack White claimed two for 65.

Northamptonshire are sick of the sight of Vince after his mammoth knock in an innings victory at Wantage Road last month. That bile would have swelled in their mouths after he won the toss and chose to bat, with all conditions assisting run-making.

Vince was the least of Northamptonshire’s worries in the first half an hour as Middleton and Joe Weatherley enjoyed an explosive start against an attack lacking the injured Ben Sanderson.

The pair scored 12 in the first over and were up to 22 after the second as the first 31 minutes saw the half-century stand arrive in only 46 balls.

But Jordan Buckingham brilliantly angled in and seamed away to bowl Weatherley to halt and swing the momentum.

Northamptonshire had by no means disgraced themselves in that avalanche of runs but slightly tighter lines and a slightly softer ball stemmed the runs and built pressure.

The remaining 90 minutes of the session saw just 45 more runs with Middleton playing across the line to be bowled by Sales and the bogged-down Nick Gubbins leg before to White.

Vince had arrived and was joined by Brown; the two experienced pros refused to allow a collapse similar to that which turned their last home fixture with Warwickshire into a catastrophe.

Vince’s England Test days are almost certainly behind him now, he wasn’t named in the squad to face Ireland next month – not that anyone had suggested him – and hasn’t featured since the last of his 13 Tests in 2018.

Quietly though, he has been finding the form an often-fragile Hampshire batting line-up needs from him.

His 186 at Northampton was followed by twin-unbeaten fifties in the Warwickshire defeat.

Only James Rew and Tom Westley have more than his 477 Division One runs this season.

Here he was patient, especially against the nagging accuracy of Sales and Tom Taylor but still had time to play his greatest hits – his 50 in 100 balls came with a cover drive.

Brown was equally sedate in the 106-run stand, although earned a life when he was dropped at second slip before he was eventually bowled chopping on Sales.

Vince quickly moved on to partnering up with Dawson and another fruitful stand; this time worth 75.

But hopes of a 29th first-class century were thwarted in the over before the second new ball as an innocuous forward defence to Rob Keogh was tickled behind. Ian Holland followed when he was lbw to White with the new cherry.

Dawson continued from his 84 against Kent last week to end the day’s landmark curse with his fifty coming in 79 balls, during an unbeaten 50 stand with Keith Barker.

On first-class debut, leg-spinner Alex Russell, 21, showed high promise with a number of challenging deliveries despite going wicketless.