James Vince can finally call himself an England centurion after six years of trying, but admits he does not know if or when he will get another chance.
In his 50th innings for his country across all three formats, the 30-year-old produced a knock that contained all of his trademark style with new-found substance, sealing a three-wicket win over Pakistan and a 3-0 sweep of the Royal London Series.
His 102 was the defining contribution as he and Lewis Gregory (77) helped chase down a ground record of 332 at Edgbaston, and Vince was in reflective mood as he soaked in the occasion.
It may never have come had the entire first-choice squad not been sent scurrying to their rooms after a Covid-19 outbreak in camp, but from that chaos a player who was first blooded in May 2015 was finally able to show his best self.
“I hadn’t given up on this moment but this time last week I didn’t expect it at all,” he said.
“I wasn’t sure it was going to come. There was probably a realisation I wasn’t going to be in the squad or be high up in the pecking order so I was delighted I got another opportunity.
“I don’t know when the next will be or if there will be another one. But that was without doubt one of the best days I’ve had.
“I’ve played a number of games and not got there for England, but to score a hundred for my country was one of my dreams growing up. I’ll never forget that.”
Many of England’s A-list stars are expected to be back in action for the forthcoming Twenty20 series, with a squad announced on Wednesday morning, but the Test side has been faring less well for run-scorers.
Vince last played the five-day format in 2018, leaving a modest average of 24.90 and a reputation for loose dismissals behind him.
He knows all about those critiques and, while he does not dispute them, he cannot help but wonder if he can do better should he ever get the chance to reboot the other part of his career.
“I’m realistic – I don’t expect from this one knock to be all of a sudden in the reckoning,” he said.
“It’s one innings in white-ball cricket…hopefully that keeps me on the radar but I’m not going to start thinking I should be on the plane to the Ashes or in all the squads from now on.
“But it’s nice to have it behind me. It will give me belief and hopefully some other people in the dressing room will know that I’m capable of doing it.
“I know the opinion on my career is that I’ve got starts but not made big contributions: the opinion is like that because that’s been the case.
“But hopefully this will give me more confidence and some other people as well. Today can help me going forward.”