James Vince and Tom Westley were both happy that a new year and a fresh format brought a change in their fortunes for the England Lions in Dubai today.
Both struggled for runs in the T20 series against Pakistan A before Christmas, while making their mark in other areas – Vince as captain, after being named man of the series in England’s victory over the full Pakistan team, and Westley with his off-spin and one of the best catches of the series.
The Lions returned to Dubai last week for a five-match 50-over series against Pakistan A, and in the first of two warm-up games against United Arab Emirates, Vince and Westley were both in the runs during a five-wicket win.
Vince, who was given a break from the captaincy to allow Sam Billings some leadership experience, stroked a fluent 88 from 93 balls, and Westley ended unbeaten on 57 from 63 as the Lions secured a five-wicket win.
“That was the first time I’ve batted with Vincey in the UAE, so it was nice to have a bit of a partnership,” said Westley.
“He set the tone really well. We spoke about hitting strong shots and doing what we’ve done for our counties – not over-complicating things which maybe I did a bit before Christmas. It’s good to have spent some time in the middle.”
Westley also bowled eight tidy overs of off-spin to earn 1-31, teaming up effectively with Hampshire’s left-arm spinner Liam Dawson in the middle of the UAE innings.
“That’s where I’ve been most effective for Essex in 50-over cricket,” he added.
“You can settle in, especially on a wicket that turned a little bit as well like that one today. I thought Daws bowled fantastically as well at the other end – it was nice to be bowling in partnership with him, as it was batting with Vincey.”
Vince shared Westley’s appreciation of the change to the longer one-day format.
“In Twenty20 you don’t necessarily have a chance to get in, you always feel under pressure to score,” he explained.
“This was quite nice, 50 overs chasing 200, you could assess the wicket, and we weren’t under a huge amount of pressure to score straight away. We could spend a bit of time there up front and once we got used to the wicket it was good.
“It was different not captaining,” he added.
“I was trying to help Sam when he needed it but not thinking about who’s bowling and things like that, it does mean you can just concentrate on your fielding a bit more.
“But hopefully I’ll get the reins back when the series starts. That was the advantage of being captain in the T20s, you feel like you can still have some sort of influence on the game even if you don’t score runs.
“It’s not like being an all-rounder but in a way if you miss out with the bat you still feel like you can have some effect on the game.”