Lou Vincent the Lip still good for a fast quip

For a cricketer, there are many ways to tell you're getting on. Those quick singles become more of a struggle. Bowling run-ups need to be shortened.

You swap your youthful position in the field at point for a spot in the slips cordon.

For Lou Vincent, who is back playing first-class cricket for Auckland this summer after a four-year break, it's a case of noticing the new faces around the changing sheds.

Young opener Robert O'Donnell, son of former Auckland coach, and New Zealand assistant, Mark, is on the fringes of the Auckland squad these days.

Now 33, Vincent remembers O'Donnell as a youngster hanging around his old man's team back in the day - a mark of how much has changed for himself as a bloke, and a cricketer.

"I remember when they first moved to New Zealand, he was about nine and hanging around the changing rooms," Vincent told Sunday News.

"Now I'm opening the batting with him and putting on 50. He's a talented little player. We're breeding some good young players at the moment."

Vincent played for Auckland in their stunning Twenty20 Champions Trophy run in South Africa in October, but is now back playing four-day cricket for the province.

The former Black Cap has made just 205 runs in eight innings so far - with a top score of 45 - but Vincent sees this period as his way of "blowing out the cobwebs" and he is confident the runs will come.

"The first month of the season there has been a few cobwebs, but I haven't failed miserably," he said.

"In the past, I've got duck, duck, duck, hundred.

"This time I'm getting 30, 30, 30 and hopefully a double hundred soon.

"It's just finding that rhythm and that batsmanship in the four-day stuff. I'm nailing the starts, but there's more to come.

"That comes with some time in the middle."

Having last played international cricket in 2007, Vincent, who has grappled with depression in recent years, relocated to the United Kingdom in search of more cricket.

He found it in Sussex - but it wasn't really him, and his form reflected that. An olive branch came from Auckland last year, and Vincent grasped the opportunity with both hands, leading to his appearance back home for the 2012-13 season.

"I thought that was pretty much the end and thought I was off to other things [after I finished with Sussex]," said Vincent, who plans on remaining in New Zealand.

"I played for Auckland in those two games in India in the Champions League where we lost [last year], I think I was the only batsman to show a bit of form.

"Auckland said if we're in a position to get into the final, we'll get you over for a game.

"Thankfully the Auckland boys did really well, and got me over for that game.

"If it wasn't for that game, I could be anywhere right now.

"After that final and heading up into the Champions League, I felt like I was done in the UK. [Captain] Gareth Hopkins, [coach] Paul Strang and [assistant] Pat Cole got behind me and said, 'come back'."

As for this summer, he's looking forward to more T20 action for Auckland, with an increased HRV Cup schedule starting soon, and getting stuck into working on his property north of Auckland.

"I've got four years of gorse and weed growing up here in Kaukapakapa, so I'll keep myself busy," he said.

"My girlfriend is trying to stop me from doing all this work because she's only here for a month from the UK as well. She's like, 'hold on a sec'.

"I'm not good at stopping. I'm always on the go."

Sunday News