Whistle-stop tour starts with home return for graduate Vince
JAMES VINCE will enjoy something of a homecoming when England touch down in Perth for the opening leg of their Ashes tour early next month.
It was here, at Melville Cricket Club, just outside Freemantle, that a 17-yearold Vince arrived a decade ago.
Spending his weeks at the Paul Terry Cricket Academy and his weekends playing mostly Second Grade cricket for one of Perth’s most respected club sides, Vince developed the kind of game that the England selectors hope will help him flourish Down Under this winter.
Melville has previous when it comes to developing young English talent. Marcus Trescothick spent two winters there between 1997 and 1999, becoming a popular member of a club that Dennis Lillee once called home.
The thread of famous names has been continued by Adam Voges, the former Australian star, who is now the club’s director of cricket.
Like Voges, Terry has been part of the Perth furniture since calling time on his playing career with Hampshire in 1996. And he tells The Cricket Paper that he’s looking forward to seeing Vince back in Perth this winter.
“He was obviously very young when he came here but I think you grow up fast as a 17-year-old in that environment,” he says.
“Melville is a club with a lot of links with Hampshire, with Dimi (Mascarenhas), Liam Dawson and myself all having played there.
“James spent most of his time here playing Second Grade cricket because the First Grade team was just so strong.When he did make the step up, he generally went in fairly low down, at six or seven, but he showed what he was capable of.
“He probably didn’t have as much opportunity to shine as maybe he would have liked but it was a tough side to get into. At the Academy, he would be training pretty much every day, whether that was fitness work or batting work.We would catch up as much as possible.”
A double century in Second Grade – a rare occurrence in any form of club cricket – provided ample evidence of his prowess. His appetite for hard work and willingness to fit in also stood out as two of his defining qualities.
It’s also telling that he managed to break into the Hampshire team in 2009 after another winter spent working with Terry in WA.
“I’ve watched him from afar since then,” says Terry. “I saw him play in Tests last summer and I thought he handled that reasonably well without going on and making one decent score that might have given him a bit more of an opportunity.
“He came over here with the Sydney Thunder at the Big Bash and I know he impressed a lot of people during that. He now has that experience to draw on, which will definitely be useful this winter.”
Vince’s selection hasn’t gained universal approval but the fact remains that he’s one of the country’s most elegant strokemakers. And with England’s opening match against Western Australia, there could be no better place for him to stake his claim for a Test place.
Familiar ground: James Vince