James Vince insists he is ready to lead the charge for Hampshire’s promotion bid.
The gifted batsman has been on the Hampshire scene for some time, despite only celebrating his 21st birthday yesterday.
But as he comes of age, he knows there is plenty resting on his young shoulders for the 2012 season as he chases the weight of runs to back up his considerable talent.
Vince said: ‘Every season you play, you know that more is going to be expected of you. This one is going to be no different.
‘I tend to put quite a lot of pressure on myself anyway, to be honest.
‘We’ve got some good experience in the batting line-up with Simon Katich, Jimmy Adams, Michael Carberry and Neil McKenzie, while we’ve also got myself, Liam Dawson and some younger batters in there as well.
‘I think it’s a good blend and hopefully we can get off to that good start and set things up for the rest of the season.
‘We’ve got a fairly young squad but it’s a squad who have played a lot of cricket, so it’s not like we are all being thrown in at the deep end.
‘Hopefully we can get off to a good start and get ourselves back into division one at the first attempt.’
In his two full seasons in the first-team ranks, Vince has shown plenty of evidence he is destined for big things.
And if he continues his development, he looks a certainty to follow Danny Briggs into the England set-up.
But he admits himself that he has yet to deliver big runs on a consistent basis in the four-day game and is looking for a big improvement this term.
In 2010, he notched one century and registered 795 runs at an average of 34.56.
Yet last year, while he bagged two hundreds, his average slipped to 28.92 from a total of 723 runs.
After some intensive work with former England star Graham Thorpe on the Lions’ tour to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and UAE over the winter, though, Vince believes he is now well-placed to take his game to the next level.
He said: ‘We were in fairly tough places on the tour – Bangladesh especially.
‘I’ve been there before with the England under-19s and there’s not a great deal to do away from training or playing. But it was a good learning experience and a really great group of lads out there.
‘We lost that series but drew the t20 series. We probably under-achieved as a side, but from a personal point of view, I thought I did okay.
‘But then we went to Sri Lanka and a few of the England one-day squad joined us who weren’t in the Test squad.
‘We ended up winning the series 3-2 against them, which was a decent effort.
‘I didn’t get to play all that much myself because they played an extra spinner so it was a bit frustrating not to be playing.
‘But I did a lot of work with Thorpey in the nets so it was great.
‘He’s a great bloke to learn from. He’s played more than 100 Test matches for England and I’m sure I can take a lot from it and get some rewards this summer.’
Vince is back at the airport this week as Hampshire head off for their pre-season preparations in Barbados.
They start their programme with a two-day game against Warwickshire on March 19-20, followed by a clash with Leicestershire on March 24-25.