James Vince this weekend starts a busy winter programme determined to ‘put down a marker’ with regards to next year’s T20 World Cup.
The Hampshire skipper is part of a 15-man squad that will play New Zealand in five T20s crammed into a 10-day period starting next Friday in Christchurch. The team’s opening game, against a New Zealand XI at Lincoln, takes place this Sunday.
After his England duties have finished, Vince flies to South Africa to link up with the Paarl Rocks squad competing in the South African Mzansi T20 Super League series.
And once that concludes in mid-December, Vince is off to Australia - the venue for next autumn’s T20 World Cup - for a second stint with the Sydney Sixers in the T20 Big Bash.
‘It’s nice to be playing throughout the winter,’ he said. ‘I’ve done that in the last few years and it’s definitely improved my game.’
Vince played three games in England’s World Cup winning side last summer, but failed to take advantage when he deputised for the injured Jason Roy in the group stage.
‘I didn’t really manage to capitalise on my chances then,’ he added. ‘But now I’ve got a chance to hopefully get some game time and put down a marker.’
Though Vince made his T20 international debut in November 2015, in the subsequent four years he has only played eight times.
The first three of those were against Pakistan in Dubai in the first few weeks of his T20 international career.
It was an impressive start too, with scores of 41 and 38 (top score) batting at No 3 in his first two appearances and 46 after being promoted to open alongside Roy in his third game.
His sole T20 World Cup innings saw him score 22 against Afghanistan in Delhi in early 2016, before he scored 16 at the Ageas Bowl against Sri Lanka a few months later.
That was it until February 2018, when Vince was recalled for the Tri-Series event Down Under - batting at No 4 and scoring 21 against Australia and 10 against New Zealand.
Vince’s last T20I appearance was in England’s last game in the shortest form of the game - the victory over Pakistan in Cardiff last May before the World Cup and the Ashes went on to dominate the summer months.
Opening with Ben Duckett, Vince gave England a decent start with 36 from 27 balls before skipper Eoin Morgan (57no) and Joe Root (47) took charge.
Apart from Vince, Morgan’s other top four options in New Zealand are Jonny Bairstow - who opened in England’s 50-over World Cup triumph - Somerset newcomer Tom Banton, Joe Denly and Dawid Malan, with the captain likely to bat at No 5. Roy and Root have been rested.
Vince has scored 4,926 T20 runs in his career, and only eight English-qualified batsmen have ever compiled more.
Three are former Hampshire colleagues - Kevin Pietersen (5,695), Owais Shah (5,509) and Michael Lumb (4,972).
Others are Denly (5,053), Jos Buttler (5,7808), Morgan (5,993), Hales (6,174) and Luke Wright (7,588).