Englishman James Vince has recommitted to the Sydney Sixers ahead of this season’s 11th installment of the Big Bash League.
The BBL10 finals hero, James Vince joins the Sydney Sixers franchise for the fourth year – sixth overall in the Big Bash -, the team aiming for a three-peat after proving victorious in the past two seasons.
The right-handed batsman from Sussex, Vince’s efforts in the finals last season went a long way to deciding the result for the Sixers.
In the qualifier, Vince scored 98* off 53 balls against the Perth Scorchers before backing up that feat with another 95 off 60 balls in the final to ultimately get the Sixers over the line. He was awarded Player of the Match for last year’s final due to his blistering performance.
After spending two years with crosstown rivals the Thunder when he first joined the BBL, Vince says he’s excited to re-join the Sixers for BBL|11 and aim for even greater success.
“The group and Shippy (Sixers head coach Greg Shipperd) create an environment for people to enjoy their cricket and pay their best cricket so that’s one side of it and playing at the SCG and [the] Sixers fans as well is the other side,” Vince described to media on Tuesday.
“I’ve been made to feel very welcome by both the group and by the fans since I joined so it’s nice to be coming back, it almost feels like a second home now.”
Shipperd too has signed a new deal with the Sixers to be their head coach once again, citing the culture was difficult to turn down, a sentiment that Vince echoed as he mentioned the impact he has on the club.
“I guess the experience he’s got and just the way he is, he seems to bring out the best in people and also get the team playing as a team instead of a group of individuals,” Vince said.
“Not quite sure exactly how he does it but you obviously need good buy-in from the group as well and Shippy obviously leads it and Mo (Moises Henriques) as a captain, Hughesy (Daniel Hughes) when Mo wasn’t there and the group grew themselves, just seemed to enjoy each other’s success.”
That growing team culture that’s emulated in the two most recent BBL titles – and three overall – for the men’s team is evidence for Vince that the club doesn’t rely on individual performances.
“The group’s not changed a huge amount since I’ve been there, I guess it hasn’t needed to but there’s a real feeling of togetherness and a proper team environment,” he said.
“Obviously a very high-skilled group of players as well so it’s more than just one person being able to influence a team and mean you’re going to win the competition so [a] combination of everything.
“The groups just got stronger and stronger and obviously to win it two years in a row, it’s a fantastic achievement. The opportunity to come and try and win it again is something that I’m absolutely buzzing for can’t wait to get over there.”
The 30-year-old said the thought of entering a biosecurity bubble during the course of the upcoming season wasn’t the most ideal scenario though hoped-for improvements to the setup from last year.
“Obviously ideally it’s not going to be in a bubble, last year it was in a bubble but we weren’t confined to a hotel room so that was manageable,” he said.
“I’d obviously come from playing in England where we were in stricter bubbles, so last year, although it was a bubble, we still had some freedom to leave hotels and have things so hopefully, y’know, worst case that something similar to last year, that’s kinda what I’m hoping for.
“It’s a bit of a concern, last year I didn’t know what it would be like can’t say it was too much fun but hoping this year that although there’s still going to be quarantine, there’s a way to make to slightly easier.”
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Having just completed a campaign in cricket’s newest format, the Hundred, Vince was a part of the title winning Southern Brave who prevailed by 32 runs against Birmingham Phoenix.
Vince finished inside the top three run-scorers for the male tournament, scoring 229 across nine games that included two 50s. It’s an experience that Vince believes has set him up well to continue his good form in the Big Bash, despite some changes to the rules.
“I think, the Hundred, obviously had some different rules in as [the] Big Bash did last year so it just comes down to how the group deal with those, embrace it and also learn quickly about y’know, different patterns,” he pointed out.
“The stuff with rule changes and bits and pieces that you deal with, it’s sorta how you deal with them and it’s the teams that cope with them the best will come accustomed to them and try to make plans to fit those changes or different patterns of the game is what made us successful.
“We got off to a bit of slow start in the Hundred and then adjusted quickly, got on with it, embraced it, people found their roles so it’d be fairly similar across all winning groups I would imagine, definitely what I’ve experienced at the Sixers.
“[The Sixers are] a group that just gets on with things, trying to seek out the opportunity instead of moaning about stuff, just that adaptability which as I said before, is part of the environment at the Sixers already anyway.”
Not feeling like he needs to completely change his own game, Vince is ultimately looking for consistency during the upcoming Big Bash competition, trying to keep a fresh mindset that isn’t weighed down if he does find himself in a slump.
“I’m always tinkering technique-wise and trying to find ways to be more consistent but that can vary day-to-day depending what conditions you’re in so I’ve no changed my game completely, just adjust to what’s in front of me at the time,” he says.
“I think I’ve just tried to enjoy my cricket as much as anything, I think that plays a massive part, if you start getting too down about it and almost get into that mindset which I have done in the past where you don’t look forward to your cricket, I think it’s so much harder to perform and put yourself under extra pressure.
“I can’t put my finger on something really specific but [being] a couple of years older and [gaining more] experience each year and definitely from having success builds confidence and gives you belief hoping to different environments.
“In the case of the Sixers, it’s an environment I am comfortable in and know everyone really well now so that makes a big difference as well. Shippey, and the guys around you, makes you feel good, and feel relaxed and enjoy your cricket without putting too much pressure on yourself.”
The Sydney Sixers begin their BBL11 campaign off with the first game of the tournament, hosting the Melbourne Stars at the SCG from 7:15pm on Sunday December 5.
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