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Cricket news - James Vince keen to push World Cup case

"If he [Hales] was still around I don't think I would be here now" - Vince

James Vince knows he has been fortunate. Without the de-selection of Alex Hales following his failed drugs test, Hampshire's captain probably wouldn't have had a chance of being at the World Cup. But now, barring anything drastically going wrong between now and when the final squad is announced on May 21, Vince will be there at Hales' expense.

There's been other elements of fortune too. Vince's timing with bat in hand has never been in doubt and scoring 190 for Hampshire against Gloucestershire the day the story broke in The Guardian was more perfect timing. His excellent early season form, averaging more than 70 in the 50-over tournament, would probably have seen him selected as Hales' replacement anyway, but a big hundred at that moment made his case inarguable.

"If he [Hales] was still around I don't think I would be here now," Vince said at the Ageas Bowl as England prepared for the second ODI against Pakistan. "I'm not going to say too much on his situation but it has given me an opportunity. The plan for the rest of the series is to get a game or two and hopefully push my case ahead of the World Cup.

"I got asked about aspirations at the start of the summer in regards to white-ball cricket and I said I'd do as well as I can for Hampshire and try and be the next cab off the rank. Pleased to start the season well and as things turned out, I'm here and involved now."

While there is no doubting his talent and ease on the eye, Vince's international career has been a stop start affair, particularly in white-ball cricket. He has played just eight ODIs since his debut just over four years ago and he has only played three of those games, in Bangladesh in 2016, in succession. In two of his eight matches, Vince hasn't batted.

"I've been in and out," he said. "I've covered when guys have been injured and not really had an amount of games in a row where I've played. It's been a tough team to break into. When I have had opportunity, it's been to pop in for a game knowing that once the main guys are back fit, unless I do something remarkable, I'll be out of the side."

Despite his call-up, Vince knows he is not in England's starting team if everyone is fit. Instead, he is in the squad as batting cover and with Jason Roy, Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root inked in as England's first choice top three, Vince's opportunities in the World Cup may be limited. Nevertheless, as the Hales situation has proved, strange things can happen and Vince is only an injury away from being a main part of England's attempt to win their first ever World Cup.

Providing Roy doesn't suffer any ill-effects from England's training session ahead of the second ODI, Vince will sit out the match at his home ground but he is likely to play for Hampshire in their Royal London One-Day Cup semi-final on Sunday against either Lancashire or Middlesex. He's also likely to get an opportunity at some point in the series against Pakistan.

When he does, he will have a simple role to play at the top of the order. "I did actually chat to Morgs when we were in Ireland about approach and whether there were set targets," he said. "There's not a huge amount of science to it. The guys up the top, it's their job to assess conditions. If they feel like it's a good wicket, to play with freedom and take the game forward. That's pretty much the message. To play positively, be brave and take the game forward."

For both county and country, then the immediate focus is on white-ball cricket, but the Ashes is also approaching. In Test cricket, Vince has flattered to deceive, averaging just 24 from 13 matches, but he remains highly thought of by England's management. His Test career has certainly not been written off.

A conversation with chief selector Ed Smith, as well as the retirement of Hampshire stalwart Jimmy Adams last term, prompted Vince's move up to open for Hampshire in the Championship this season. Although he failed to make a score of note in the opening two rounds, with England's tours to Sri Lanka and West Indies during the winter having failed to yield a settled opening pair, it could be an avenue back into the Test squad.

"I had a chat with Rooty and Ed [Smith] before the summer started to try and see what would give me the best opportunity of getting back into that Test side," Vince said. "The feedback I got, especially from Ed, was the higher up the order you bat, the better. The difference between three and opening from a technical point of view is not necessarily a huge amount.

"Often you can be in within the first five overs against the new ball anyway. It's more a different mental approach to it and being ready as soon as you come off. It's something I'll continue to do, at least for this year to see how I go."

For now, that can wait. He has selection for the World Cup to focus on. "I'm trying not to think about it too much and if and when I do get an opportunity in this series, try and push my case," he said. "I've been a bit stop start in international cricket. If I can get a big score out of the way, I can hopefully kick on from there."

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