Niall O’Brien: Time for England’s stand-in opener to convince v Sri Lanka

With the ball-blasting Jason Roy out due to injury, James Vince has another chance to show he belongs in the England set-up. Can he take it?


James Vince seems to be an eternal question for England. He keeps getting opportunities to show he belongs in this side.

The problem with him is that he’s such a talented player. He goes out and plays with such freedom and looks so good at the crease, he hits a few beautiful drives and everybody purrs about what a player he is.

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And then he gets out. There’s almost a sense of anti-climax when he loses his wicket.

He’s obviously held in high regard, but there’s only so many chances you will get when you’re playing for an international side like England.

People are knocking on the door for them. Jason Roy is going to be out for one, maybe two games, and it could be more. Vince will get more opportunities.

Time to rotate

As soon as Roy is fit I would expect him to be straight back in the side though.

England might think about getting Liam Plunkett back in for the sake of rotating their seamers against Sri Lanka on Friday as well. He spent a long time as England’s go-to man in those middle overs to get wickets, but he seems to have fallen behind Wood, Archer and Woakes at the moment.

That shows how strong England are, but he might come back into the side for this game just to give either Jofra Archer or Mark Wood a bit of a rest. Wood has had injuries in the past, s maybe it’s a chance to give him a break.

I wouldn’t see any other changes. They’ll stick with Ali and Rashid, weather depending of course at Leeds. Tom Curran is sitting on the sidelines, he’ll probably have to wait a little longer unless they want to make more changes.

I’d be surprised though because when you’re playing so well as a team you don’t want to upset the rhythm of the side.

TOPSHOT – Sri Lanka’s Lahiru Thirimanne bats during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between Sri Lanka and Australia at The Oval in London on June 15, 2019. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)

England’s power too much

The Sri Lankans have been very disappointing so far. Their main threat is with there leading batsmen up front, and they could’ve easily beaten Australia but ran out of steam.

I can’t see them competing with England in this game. They’re playing with too much confidence, they’re too strong, and, in front of what should be a fairly hostile Headingley crowd, they’ll over-power the tourists.

If England bat first they’re going to pile on the runs, so you’d think some of the batsmen will fancy their chances of getting another huge score in this.

Jos Buttler’s barely getting a chance with the England top order doing so well. You’d fancy the main contributions will come from there again.

Has James Vince got a big innings in him under pressure to perform? You’d say he’s due a score. I wouldn’t say he’s nailed on, but it may be time to look outside the box and take James Vince to put in a performance.

Niall’s Pick of the Punts: James Vince Top Batsman @ 4/1

James Vince Man of the Match @ 11/1

*All odds correct at time of posting

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What do you think?