Opportunity knocks for England’s James Vince to make early T20 World Cup claim

James Vince hopes to capitalise on the absence of several first-team players in New Zealand after propelling England to a comfortable seven-wicket victory in the T20 opener against the Kiwis.

England's James Vince pulls to the leg side during the T20 international against New Zealand at Hagley Oval. Picture: Martin Hunter/Photosport via AP
England's James Vince pulls to the leg side during the T20 international against New Zealand at Hagley Oval. Picture: Martin Hunter/Photosport via AP

Ben Stokes is one of a number of England’s World Cup heroes rested from the five-match series but he watched on as Vince’s elegant 59 from 38 balls helped the tourists overhaul New Zealand’s 15-5 in Christchurch.

Vince was a squad member as England finally lifted a global 50-over trophy in the summer and is targeting a similar role at next year’s T20 World Cup, using the next four games against the Black Caps as a launchpad to further his claim.

“The side’s been so successful and dominant over the last three or four years, it’s a tough first XI to break into,” said Vince, after playing the starring role in England’s first meeting against New Zealand since that dramatic World Cup final at Lord’s in July.

England's Jonny Bairstow smashes the ball through the extra cover area in the first T20 International against hosts New Zealand at Hagley Oval. Picture: Martin Hunter/Photosport via AP

“But any opportunities like this to push my case and hopefully try to be part of the squad as I was this summer for the World Cup is my aim.

“With some of the main guys missing, it would be nice to get a bit of a run in the side, post some scores and make some match-winning contributions.”

Vince creamed seven fours and two sixes in a typically stylish innings which led to England drawing first blood in the series as the Chris Silverwood era started on a high note.

But Vince admitted not playing much cricket after the end of the domestic season meant he was uncertain how he would fare.

England's Eoin Morgan, right, and James Vince pass each other during their partnership in the seven-wicket win over hosts New Zealand in the first T20 international at Hagley Oval. Picture: Martin Hunter/Photosport via AP

He said: “To be honest, since the end of the English summer I’ve not had a huge amount of cricket.

“I had a warm-up game and a bit of time in the nets but I wasn’t quite sure what nick I was in. But I’m pleased with the contribution and for the boys to get off to a winning start.

“The wicket was pretty good, I didn’t think it was an absolute belter but there was not much in there, maybe a fraction on the slow side but a pretty true bounce, it came on reasonably well for the majority of it.”

England handed international debuts to Pat Brown and Lewis Gregory, and Sam Curran came in for his T20 bow. While Brown and Curran returned identical figures of 4-0-33-1, all-rounder Gregory did not feature with bat or ball.

The squad may have an experimental feel to it – Matt Parkinson, Tom Banton and Saqib Mahmood were kept waiting for their first international appearances – but World Cup-winning captain Eoin Morgan remains at the helm.

Morgan (34no) put the finishing touches to England’s win, getting his side over the line with nine balls to spare, in his first international since committing to leading the side into the 2020 T20 World Cup.

“What he’s built over the last four years is incredible,” Vince said of the Irishman.

“To take the team from where they were to winning the World Cup, I know he’d be a massive loss if he wasn’t here, especially with a tour like this with lots of new guys coming in.

“His leadership is outstanding so he’ll be great for the young guys here. Everyone’s hoping that he carries on for as long as possible.”

Vince made the last of his 18 Test appearances last year at Hagley Oval but the uncertainty surrounding Joe Denly’s ankle injury could open up a vacancy for the series which follows the sprint format part of the tour.

Vince, though, joked: “I think Bluey (Jonny Bairstow) might have something to say about that!

“I think I’ve said it before, although it is a different format, runs in an England shirt are always going to help you, no matter what.

“It’s a good start and hopefully I can build on it and continue throughout the series and try to make an impact on it myself.”

Australia beat Sri Lanka by seven wickets at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to complete a 3-0 T20 series whitewash.

David Warner maintained his fine form with his third successive half-century in the series as Australia cruised past their winning target of 143 with more than two overs to spare to secure another comfortable win.

Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson and Pat Cummins took two wickets each as Sri Lanka were restricted to 142-6.

Wicketkeeper Kusal Perera top-scored with an impressive 45-ball 57.

In reply, Australia’s Steve Smith was dismissed by Nuwan Pradeep for 13 after skipper Aaron Finch and Warner had put on 69 for the opening wicket, with the latter left undefeated on 57.