James Vince has been recalled to England’s squad for the fourth test against India in Southampton starting on August 30, giving the elegant but underachieving batsman another chance to prove himself at the highest level.
The 27-year-old Hampshire stylist will provide cover for Jonny Bairstow, who suffered a small fracture to his left middle finger after being struck by the ball while keeping wicket on day three of England’s third test defeat at Trent Bridge.
The recall may offer another opportunity for Vince, who has yet to translate his handsome batting style into test match substance.
He played the last of his 13 tests against New Zealand in March, before being dropped for the Pakistan series in May.
With a test average of 24.90, his international career has so far delivered only a few tantalising cameos with three half-centuries, but his county form has prompted selectors, dismayed by England’s dismal batting at Nottingham, to offer him a reprieve.
Vince has scored 847 runs, the second most by any player, at an average of 56.46 in division one this summer, capped by innings of 74 and 147 that proved instrumental in Hampshire’s win over Nottinghamshire this week while England slumped.
National selector Ed Smith said: “The selection panel felt this was the right time to reintroduce James Vince to the Test squad. James will provide cover in case Jonny Bairstow’s fractured finger prevents him playing in the fourth Test match.
“James returns to the England set-up in confident form and scoring runs. He has been in excellent form for Hampshire ... James’ match-winning runs also helped Hampshire to win the Royal London Cup earlier this summer.”
Smith’s comments came only three months since he offered a more damning verdict on Vince when dropping him for the Pakistan series.
“He has shown that when he plays well, boy does he look a Test player, however he has played 13 Tests and averages 24. There is a bigger picture than that. His cricketing history has not produced the runs he should have done,” said Smith in May.
“He has not defined enough matches in the way a top-order batsman of his ability should.”
Selectors, though, may have felt they needed to act after India’s 203-run romp in the third test which narrowed the hosts’ lead to 2-1 after three of the five tests.
In one calamitous afternoon session on the second day, England’s batting fragility was shown up again when they lost all 10 wickets, the third time this indignity has befallen them in 22 months.
Meanwhile, fast bowler Jamie Porter has not been included in the squad and will return to Essex ahead of their County Championship clash with Hampshire.
Full squad: Joe Root (c), Moeen Ali, Jimmy Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Alastair Cook, Sam Curran, Keaton Jennings, Ollie Pope, Adil Rashid, Ben Stokes, James Vince, Chris Woakes.