Lees looking the real deal for Yorkshire

Alex Lees struck a gritty century for Yorkshire on day two of their Championship match against Nottinghamshire that underlined his credentials concerning potential England selection.

Yorkshire president Dickie Bird suggests the national team should go with two Tykes, Lees and Adam Lyth, to open up, and both area certainly doing their best to give the selectors a tough dilemma.

The competition for opening batting slots for England is a wide as it ever has been, with captain Alastair Cook in a long-term slump of Test-match form, whilst Jonathan Trott has failed to convince in his recent return.

Trott has had great success at Number Three, though the incumbent Gary Ballance, another Yorkshireman, had a superb summer 2014 in that role.

However, some suggest that as Trott was excellent over a far longer period of time he deserves to return to the role, which would certainly increase the chances of Lees gaining full international recognition.

Though Sam Robson and Lyth are understandably above Lees in the current pecking order, the 22-year-old has age on his side and his century against Notts showed real quality.

Lees led the response to 428 all out from Notts, which featured a superb 236 from Alex Hales, a knock that showed he could also be a potential challenger for the test-match opening spots with more Championship consistency.

Hales is ranked the third best t20 batsman in the world but, by scoring just 13 from his first 47 balls on a first morning where cloud cover made difficult, showed he has the capability to bat in a fashion more appropriate to the longer formats.

That skill is certainly not something Lees has ever had to prove, seen when his first team debut was endorsed by Geoffrey Boycott, who said, only half-mockingly, that “I like Lees because he bats like me!”

In 2013, Lees batted patiently all day to reach his hundred just before the close against Middlesex at Lord’s, a knock that demonstrated remarkable patience and ability for one so young.

Both Boycott and Bird argue Lees is future captaincy material and various Yorkshire players have already commented on his leadership abilities – on this occasion this came through action with an excellent knock.

In stark contrast to Hales the day before, Lees is unlikely to take an attack apart through bludgeoning the ball parts. However, what he can offer more than makes up for this.

Patient, stoic and technically solid, Lees is the archetypal dependable opener.

For one so young there is an impressive knowledge of both his abilities and limitations, important in allowing progression.

Lees a difficult a pair of new ball bowlers of international class in Vernon Philander and Harry Gurney, whom both pose very different challenges.

Philander bowls genuinely fast right-arm, swinging the ball noticeably away from the left-handed Lees, whilst the left-armer Gurney largely bowled back of a length.

Lees admirably saw of this challenge with aplomb, showing impressive judgement of his stumps in often leaving the ball to the increasing frustration of the Notts bowlers.

The opener scored prodigiously infront of square on the off side, with his back and front foot cover drives a notable strength, with boundaries in this area bringing up both the 50 and 100 marks for the team.

However, equally as important is that he has an excellent understanding of what balls are appropriate for these shots. Too many batsman do not possess that, so their greatest strength too often becomes their greatest weakness.

Eventually Lees reached a deserved hundred off 223 balls with 11 fours, a knock that should ensure Yorkshire avoid the follow on and defeat in this match.

Moreover, like Alex Hales the day before, Lees provided a timely reminder that England have plenty of alternative options to open up – both have all the necessary tools to potentially succeed at international level.

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