Hampshire director of cricket Giles White tipped England new boy James Vince for Test stardom from the very start – because he made the ball sound different off his bat.
White has mentored Vince, who made his Test debut against Sri Lanka on Thursday, since he joined the Hampshire Academy.
The batsman scored nine on his Three Lions bow as England were bowled out in the first innings for 298.
White said: ‘James came to us at academy level in about 2004 or 05, at a young age.
‘He came through the system, he was a reserved character, very quiet but shone when he had a bat in his hand.
‘He always struck the ball very well. The ball made a different sound off the bat than other youngsters.
‘He’s always been a natural striker of the ball. James has always had a strong technique, he hasn’t really changed much – he was easy to coach, you only have to tell him something once.
‘I have always thought he was international quality even from a young age – he just showed something a little different to others who had come through the system.
‘He hits the ball harder than other players with minimum effort and always shows a certain quality.’
Vince, who was the first Hampshire Academy graduate to play a Test since Chris Tremlett nine years ago, was touted for greatness from a young age and White has always been impressed with how he maintain that pressure.
‘He managed the pressure particularly well,’ added White.
‘When Duncan Fletcher mentioned he reminded him of Michael Vaughan, I think things gathered pace as they can do.
‘For James he kept his feet on the ground and that didn’t dispute him. While other people were talking, he just got on with his game. The timing is right now.
‘He has impressed me in the lead up to being selected for the Test match – he never really mentioned it, he just focused on doing well for Hampshire and with what was right in front of him.’
– ALEX SMITH