BRISBANE (Reuters) - Among a band of rookie batsmen in a team mocked as the “un-name-ables” by a dismissive Australian media, England number three James Vince did his best to garner recognition on Thursday with a defiant half-century on the opening day of the Ashes.
Vince fell short of a potentially career-defining century on day one of the first test at the Gabba, with Nathan Lyon running him out after tea, but the Sussex man’s composed 83 was a strong riposte to critics who questioned his place in the squad.
Among them was former Australia opener Matthew Hayden, who raised England’s hackles by declaring he had no idea who half the team were.
After sharing a 125-stand with fellow rookie Mark Stoneman, who also impressed with a knock of 53, Vince said he had taken notice of the commentary.
“I think reading comments like that almost gives you an extra incentive to go out there and try and make a statement,” the 26-year-old told reporters.
“The first innings is nice to get some time in the middle, get some confidence and if you didn’t know who we were at the start of the day then (you) probably (do) now.”
Vince arrived with an average of less than 20 and a reputation for squandering starts, having never surpassed 42 in his seven previous tests.
Australia’s fierce pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood promised an uneasy Ashes debut on a green-tinged wicket renowned for its bounce and pace.
England seemed destined for trouble when Starc had Alastair Cook nick behind for two in the third over but Vince anchored a defiant stand with Stoneman, plundering 12 fours during his 170-ball knock.
Nimble on his feet, Vince struck a number of crisp cover drives as he and Stoneman held firm to the brink of tea, an improbable position for many in the crowd of 35,000.
Australia captured two late wickets to leave the test evenly poised with England on 196 for four.
The surprisingly slow Gabba pitch undoubtedly helped their cause and Vince was dropped on 68 by recalled wicketkeeper Tim Paine.
He was unable to profit from the reprieve. Taking off for a risky single after tea, Lyon swooped in and threw down his stumps with an inspired piece of fielding leaving a touch of disappointment to the batsman’s big day.
“I‘m sure lying in bed I’ll have a few thoughts about (missing out),” he said.
”But at the same time, at the start of the day if you offered me scoring 80-odd, I probably would have taken it.
“So look at the positives from it.”
Editing by John O'Brien