James Vince has signed for his fourth season in Sydney.
Since BBL06, Vince has played 14 matches in the competition with a batting average of 34.83 at a strike rate of 137.05.
Vince is posting similar numbers in South Africa’s domestic T20 competition and will be a force for the Sixers in BBL09. He was easily the best batter last season for the Sixers (averaging 44.83) with the sixth-best average across the whole of the BBL.
Sixers’ fans will remember his man-of-the-match 75, from 46 balls, against Brisbane Heat in a 79-run win. There are plenty more innings like that in Vince’s locker.
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When I spoke to Vince, he was at the airport in New Zealand having represented England in the T20I series. He was flying to England, to collect his family, before making the trip to South Africa to play in the Mzansi Super League for Paarl Rocks.
After that, he’s coming to Australia to play for the Sixers before heading to Pakistan where he’s been retained by the Multan Sultans. Was there a danger of burnout?
“There is, definitely, and you can overdo it," he said. "I think the T20 stuff lends itself to a decent lifestyle, as well, so if you’re smart about where you’re playing and how much you’re playing, it also gives you a good opportunity to have good times in different countries; see different cultures.”
The Sixers were close to reaching the final of BBL08 before Dan Christian’s batting heroics snatched victory for the eventual champions, Melbourne Renegades. Vince was contemplative of last season’s narrow defeat and what it means for the upcoming BBL season.
“We got the semis last year, and we’ve obviously won it in the past [BBL01], I think the more experience your guys can get the better,” he said.
The Englishman was complimentary about Josh Philippe who also had a breakout year for the men in pink and black last season: “I was pretty impressed with him last year.
"Hopefully, he kicks on this year with another really good Big Bash League, and he’s one of the players in the squad that you can see playing for Australia in the near future.”
Vince captained Hampshire in this year’s Vitality Blast (England’s domestic T20 competition) and was in fine form despite the county not making the quarter-finals. In 12 innings, he scored 407 runs at 40.70 while captaining the team, but he concedes the pressures are different.
“The preparation is definitely different because you know you’ve got to hop on a plane and spend two nights away from your base," he said.
"Whereas in England, a lot of the time, we travel on the day so it will be an hour and a half on the bus and then go and play and then get on the bus back home.
"Playing in Australia in front of some big crowds and every game is televised, so you’re under the microscope every time you step on the field, which is a good thing, and I think it’s going to help young Australian cricketers that are being exposed to that media coverage.”
BBL09 sees several English players playing in the tournament. Some like Alex Hales and Chris Jordan are with different teams whereas players like Phil Salt are making their debut. Vince pointed out that there is a competitive edge when the countrymen meet.
“I think there is rivalry," he said. "I guess Harry [Gurney] came over really well and was part of the Renegades which went on and won it, so he had a really successful time. He’s a lovely fellow.
"But on the pitch, you want to try and get on top of the other overseas guys, especially if you know them. Not in a horrible way, but you just want to get the better of them.”
Finally, Vince offered a summation of playing for the Sydney Sixers in BBL09, “So, there are lots of things to get excited about and from a personal point of view, living in Sydney for six or eight weeks is great fun in itself, let alone playing at the SCG, playing in the Big Bash League.”