In his 50th innings for his country across all three formats, the 30-year-old produced a knock that contained all of his trademark style with new-found substance, sealing a three-wicket win over Pakistan and a 3-0 sweep of the Royal London Series last night.
The Hampshire skipper’s 102 was the defining contribution as he and Lewis Gregory (77) helped chase down a ground record of 332 at Edgbaston, and Vince was in reflective mood as he soaked in the occasion.
It may never have come had the entire first-choice squad not been sent scurrying to their rooms after a Covid-19 outbreak in camp, but from that chaos a player who was first blooded in May 2015 – in an ODI against Ireland in Dublin that was abandoned before Vince could bat - was finally able to show his best self.
‘I hadn’t given up on this moment but this time last week I didn’t expect it at all,’ he said.
‘I wasn’t sure it was going to come. There was probably a realisation I wasn’t going to be in the squad or be high up in the pecking order so I was delighted I got another opportunity.
‘I don’t know when the next will be or if there will be another one. But that was without doubt one of the best days I’ve had.
‘I’ve played a number of games and not got there for England, but to score a hundred for my country was one of my dreams growing up. I’ll never forget that.’
Many of England’s A-list stars are expected to be back in action for the forthcoming Twenty20 series, with a squad announced this morning, but the Test side has been faring less well for run-scorers.
Vince last played the five-day format in 2018, leaving a modest average of 24.90 and a reputation for loose dismissals behind him.
He knows all about those critiques and, while he does not dispute them, he cannot help but wonder if he can do better should he ever get the chance to reboot the other part of his career.
‘I’m realistic – I don’t expect from this one knock to be all of a sudden in the reckoning,’ he said.
‘It’s one innings in white-ball cricket…hopefully that keeps me on the radar but I’m not going to start thinking I should be on the plane to the Ashes or in all the squads from now on.
‘But it’s nice to have it behind me. It will give me belief and hopefully some other people in the dressing room will know that I’m capable of doing it.
‘I know the opinion on my career is that I’ve got starts but not made big contributions: the opinion is like that because that’s been the case.
‘But hopefully this will give me more confidence and some other people as well. Today can help me going forward.’
Vince scored 76 in his last Test innings, against New Zealand in March 2018 - only the third time he had passed 50 in 22 visits to the crease in Test cricket. Eight times he has been dismissed having scored between 16-25.
The same is true of his ODI career. After hitting 51 in his first innings against Pakistan in 2016, Vince then scored between 14-27 in seven of his next 14 innings. Then, following his recall last week, he struck a new ODI high of 56 at Lord’s before finally reaching three figures last night.
In terms of England hundreds, this was Vince’s third - he had previously celebrated two centuries while playing for the England Lions.
He cracked an unbeaten 152 against South Africa A in January 2015 and, 12 months later, hit 102 against Pakistan A in Dubai.