The desire to prove his doubters wrong helped inspire James Vince on the first day of the Ashes.
Vince, recalled to bat at No. 3 despite a modest season in county cricket, stroked an elegant 83 to ensure England gained a foothold in the first Test. And while he missed out on a maiden Test century, Vince hoped he had earned some respect from those who dismissed him ahead of the series.
Matthew Hayden, in particular, should have sat up and taken notice, according to Vince. Hayden, the former Australia batsman, dismissed England as “no hopers” and “a rabble” ahead of the series and insisted he didn’t know who half the team – including Vince – were.
It was a remarkable comment bearing in mind that Vince has played seven Tests previously – enough, you would think, for a cricket pundit to have taken notice before passing judgement – and it clearly irritated the England camp.
Ben Stokes, the England all-rounder who is currently in England awaiting the outcome of a police investigation, had already called into question Hayden’s quality as a pundit as a result of the comments, while Vince has now revealed he was inspired by such doubters.
“If he didn’t know who we were before the game, he probably does now,” Vince said of Hayden after sharing a stand of 125 with fellow “unknown” Mark Stoneman. It was more than England managed in any stand during the Ashes series of 2013-14.
“Reading comments like that gives you the motivation to go out there and make a statement,” he said.
“A few comments I’ve read said that I’m not ready for Test cricket, so hopefully I’ve proved a few people wrong. It all gives you more inspiration to prove people wrong.”
While Vince admitted he was disappointed to miss out on a century – he was run-out by Nathan Lyon after attempting an unwise single – he was able to appreciate it was a good start on his return to Test cricket.
“No matter what score you get you always want more,” he said. “It would have been nice to be there at the end of the day, but stuff like that happens in cricket.
“It’s great to get off to a good start. If I could have my first go at Test cricket again, I would, but that’s in the past now. I’ve been focused on capitalising on this opportunity and nailing a place in the team. I felt reasonably calm considering the occasion. I tried to enjoy it and maintain focus. I didn’t want them to get on top of me and I thought I got the balance just about right.
“I’m sure lying in bed I’ll have a few thoughts about missing out on a century, but if you’d offered me 80-odd before play, I’d have taken it. And we had spoken about getting overs in the bowlers’ legs – what with them only having three seamers – and if we can get through the new ball in the morning, we can built to 300, 350 even 400. The first hour in the morning will dictate how things go.
“It was a disappointing way to go. It was a great piece of fielding, but in retrospect I wouldn’t take the run.”
Vince defended England’s scoring rate – they scored at 2.43 runs per over – by explaining the pitch was slow and Australia bowled well throughout the day.
“The lack of pace made scoring hard,” he said. “Conditions weren’t what we expected – there wasn’t much pace in the wicket, though the ball came on a bit better as the day wore on – and they bowled pretty well.
“They would have wanted some more pace in the pitch. But they kept coming all day and the lack of pace made it hard to score runs when they hit their areas. We’ll see how they respond in the morning after all those overs in their legs today.”