IT is only a matter of time before James Vince is playing for England, but Hampshire are enjoying him while they can.
The 23 year-old’s latest masterclass, a magnificent maiden double hundred, set up Hampshire’s 470-run win against Essex at The Ageas Bowl - the joint second-biggest victory by a runs margin in the history of the LV County Championship (only Surrey have won by more).
Vince set the records tumbling with a spectacular 240 (222 balls, 33 fours) in a third-wicket stand of 387 from 431 balls with Will Smith – Hampshire’s third-highest partnership of all time.
The England hopeful continued his irresistible form after resuming on 154, before Hampshire declared on 440-3 at lunch - a lead of 605.
Vince soon became the season’s first batsman to 1,000 Championship runs before his 27th four, an elegant straight drive against Ryan Ten Doeschate, took him to a run-a-ball 200.
He is in exalted company as the second-youngest Hampshire player to score a double century after the great Barry Richards and he held both arms aloft as he received his latest standing ovation. Smith was the perfect foil with an unbeaten 151 (245 balls, 13 fours). He and Vince broke a 101 year-old record in sharing Hampshire’s highest partnership against Essex.
It is only surpassed by Michael Carberry and Neil McKenzie’s 523 against Yorkshire in 2011 and Robert Poore and Teddy Wynyard’s unbroken 411 at Taunton in 1899. Vince accelerated after reaching 200 before he was caught at deep extra cover against Topley.
He made more runs in the match than Essex and was soon in action again at second slip as James Tomlinson found the edge of Tom Westley in the third over of the fourth innings.
There was still plenty of movement and carry to encourage Hampshire’s seamers, as well as no shortage of time.
Ravi Bopara (39) and Nick Browne (25) put on 62 for Essex’s second wicket. But after replacing Kyle Abbott at the Northern End, David Balcombe struck twice in three overs as the visitors lost their last nine wickets in less than 20 overs.
The left-handed Brown was trapped lbw before some extra bounce saw Bopara nick to Sean Ervine at first slip.
Matt Coles impressed and claimed the wicket of Jesse Ryder, caught by Jimmy Adams at backward point.
Then Vince continued a memorable day by dismissing Ben Foakes, who mistimed a pull to Adams at mid-wicket.
Essex captain James Foster made a quick 28 before his off-stump was flattened by Ervine just before tea.
Then Abbott struck thrice in 11 balls at the beginning of the final session to finish with a match haul of 8-67 before Essex were bowled out for 135.
Fittingly, Smith and Vince combined to take the last wicket.