James Vince continues insane white-ball form as Southern Brave make winning start of Hundred title defence at The Ageas Bowl

James Vince continued his insane white-ball form as Southern Brave began their Hundred defence with a nine-wicket schooling of Welsh Fire.

By Alex Smith
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 8:07 am

Brave captain Vince was the Vitality Blast’s leading scorer with 678 runs - helping Hampshire to win the tournament for a third time.

And he began the second edition of the Hundred with 71 off 41 balls on home soil at The Ageas Bowl last night, with opening partner Alex Davies hitting a complementary 26.

Earlier, Fire’s fresher year captain Ben Duckett struck 40 off 31 balls, with the next highest score just 11, as Fire struggled to a below par 107 in their 100 balls.

James Vince on his way to an unbeaten 71 against Welsh Fire. Adam Davy/PA Wire.

Craig Overton dominated the top order with 2-21 before Chris Jordan picked up 2-16 before Vince, Davies and Marcus Stonis were all the batters needed to finish the job with 31 balls to spare.

Having come off the back of a bombastic Vitality Blast campaign, it was imperative not to pass up the opportunity to dismiss Vince early. Unfortunately, Ryan Higgins fluffed his chance and dropped Vince to the boundary with the fifth ball.

A pair of boundaries through midwicket and point quickly pronounced the error, as Davies struck back-to-back fours off David Payne – the second a stunning straight drive.

Davies swatted a short delivery from Higgins to fall with 36 runs needed in 51 balls while Vince quickly cut firmly to bring up his half-century in 31 balls.

Southern Brave's Alex Davies runs out Welsh Fire's Josh Cob. Picture: Adam Davy/PA Wire.

He waited until he was on 55 before slog-sweeping his first six before Brave quickly scuttled to victory to maintain their perfect Ageas Bowl record - Vince bettering his best of 60 in 2021.

Brave won the toss, decided to bowl and cut the Fire top order down to 31-3 in the 25-ball powerplay, after a spectacular firework display had delayed proceedings.

Brave were without lightning quicks Jofra Archer, Tymal Mills and George Garton for various injury and illness-related issues, but it mattered little thanks to their depth.

Overton had Joe Clarke stretching to miscue to cover for a four-ball duck and Tom Banton hoicking to deep square leg, either side of 41-year-old Michael Hogan bowling Ollie Pope – who missed a reverse sweep.

James Vince fails to take a catch against Welsh Fire. Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Duckett and Sam Hain put on 25, the innings’ highest stand, but wickets continued to fall regularly.

Jake Lintott spun his way into the attack and his googly tickled Hain’s glove with his second ball, while 17-year-old leg spinner Rehan Ahmed and James Fuller’s analysis, while wicketless, went at under a run-a-ball.

Fuller got the final touch to a chaotic run out to see Josh Cobb perish and Quinton de Kock’s stand-in easily held on to Higgins on the square boundary.

Left-handed Duckett held things together, although he survived a run out and dropped catch, but dominated on the sweep as all five of his boundaries came behind the wicket.

Fireworks are let off during The Hundred match at the Ageas Bowl. Picture by Adam Davy/PA Wire.

He lobbed Jordan to mid-on before seeing the teenage Afghan sensation Noor Ahmad jab the first, and only, six of the innings, although it was never going to be enough.

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Jordan said: ‘It is a great feeling to start with a home win. Last year the support was amazing and it was great to see people come out in their numbers for the first season and also to put on a decent show for them.

‘Hopefully we can build some momentum from that.

‘The way Craig [Overton] and Hoges [Michael Hogan] set the tone at the beginning of the game really got the fielders behind them, and after that to a man the bowlers were really backed up to take wickets throughout.

‘Vincey's a class act. He leads from the front in every facet of the game. It is so so good to watch when he is in that form, so easy on the eye, especially when he plays that lovely cover drive.

Southern Brave walk out on to the pitch prior to The Hundred match against Welsh Fire. Picture by Adam Davy/PA Wire.

‘He is a really top guy and a really good leader and you saw that from him tonight.’

Duckett rued: ‘From start to finish we were beaten by a better team who know the dimensions.

‘We can turn it on a positive that we won the first two last year and ended up second from bottom. Competitions like this are about peaking at the right time and you aren't going to win every game.

‘The stats on losing three wickets in the powerplay show you don't win too many games. We had to keep believing but losing the fourth, fifth and sixth in following overs that didn't allow us to get going on a big ground where it is hard to hit boundaries.

‘My role in this team is pretty clear and is why I'm here for the second year, and that is playing against spin. A lot of these blokes are destructive against seam and my role was pretty important today.’

Brave’s next game is a repeat of last season’s final, against Birmingham Phoenix at Edgbaston on August 10.