STEEPLE Ashton cricket ace James Vince enhanced his prospects of full England selection with a career-best 240 and became the first player this season to reach 1,000 first-class runs as Hampshire completed a crushing 470-run County Championship Division Two win over Essex with a day to spare at the Ageas Bowl today.
Essex - set an unlikely 605 for victory - were dismissed for 135 in their second innings after Hampshire piled up a massive 440 for three before declaring at lunch..
Hampshire equalled the second highest victory margin of all time in County Championship cricket as they recorded their fourth win of the Division Two season.
Former Chippenham and Warminster player Vince shared a third-wicket partnership of 387 with Will Smith, whose unbeaten 150 was his first century since joining Hampshire from Durham.
Essex, shot out for a meagre 121 in their first innings, crumbled again, losing their last six wickets for 14 runs.
Hampshire, 264 for two overnight and with a daunting lead of 429 already, ruthlessly carved the Essex bowling to pieces.
They greedily added another 176 runs in two hours, leaving themselves five sessions to bowl Essex out for a second time. The improbable 605-run target theoretically left Essex having to surpass by some distance the highest all-time Championship second-innings winning score, 502 by Middlesex against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in 1925.
Vince, 154 not out at the start of play, passed his previous best 180 (against Yorkshire at Scarborough in 2010) in the 70th over and Smith then celebrated three figures.
The pair moved remorselessly on, Vince bringing up his double-century off exactly 200 balls with a delightful straight on-drive, one of the 33 fours he hit.
The 23-year-old was eventually caught at deep extra-cover for 240, one run short of the highest individual county score made this season by Australia's Chris Rogers for Middlesex against Yorkshire in April. He batted 247 minutes and faced 222 balls.
The departure of Vince at 411 for three enabled Smith to take centre stage, the former Durham captain going on to score an unbeaten 151 including 13 fours before Hampshire declared at 440 for three.
Essex promptly lost Tom Westley (three) caught at slip by Vince off James Tomlinson (one for 16), but progressed to 66 before Nick Browne (25) was trapped lbw by David Balcombe, who had Ravi Bopara (39) picked up by Sean Ervine at third slip to leave the visitors 85 for three.
Two runs later, Jesse Ryder (14) perished to an indifferent shot and, though James Foster (25) and Ben Foakes (10) did their best to steady the ship, Essex's task was always futile.
The dismissal of Foakes - a victim of Vince, who could not be kept out of the game - triggered the second collapse of the match by Essex, who had lost seven wickets for 23 runs at one stage of their first innings.
South Africa pace bowler Kyle Abbott (three for 28) wreaked havoc as Essex capitulated again, the last six wickets falling for a dismal 14 runs.
They were dismissed for 135 in 39.1 overs with Tymal Mills the last man out, appropriately caught by Vince off Smith.
LIAM DAWSON BACKS VINCE FOR ENGLAND CALL-UP - READ HIS COLUMN IN THE WILTSHIRE GAZETTE & HERALD THIS WEEK