Video - Yorkshire CCC 2016: Refreshed Alex Lees eyes consistent campaign
ONE of the most striking statistics of Yorkshire's 2014 County Championship title triumph was the fact that opening batsmen Adam Lyth and Alex Lees shared an average stand of 72.
The pair were the leading run-scorers for the club that year, with Lyth hitting 1,489 at 67.68 and Lees 971 at 44.13.
Lees had a more challenging time last summer, scoring 795 Championship runs at 33.12.
But he is hopeful that the rekindling of his partnership with Lyth – who was away for much of last year with England – can help both him and the Yorkshire team.
“I think it will help,” said Lees. “I think consistency in anything is sometimes the key to success, and having the same top-four or five is probably good for us as a batting unit.
“My partnership with Adam in 2014 was just over 70, and it’s an obvious statement, I suppose, but it does help to give a good platform for the rest of the players.
“I think me and Adam are just looking forward to playing cricket again; he obviously didn’t have the best of times with England in the Ashes and he is determined to get back into the England side, while I want to improve on my performances last summer.”
Lees, who has worked hard on standing taller at the crease as opposed to crouching, makes no bones about the fact that he was unhappy with his output last summer.
But he certainly does not blame that on the absence of Lyth.
“I’m a strong believer in personal responsibility,” he said.
“Your form and the runs you score is ultimately down to you, and although having a good chemistry and a good rapport with somebody is good, ultimately the buck stops with each player.
“There is no area to hide. I was inconsistent, and although I showed better form towards the back end of the season, my job is to score consistent runs for Yorkshire again.”
Lees, who turns 23 today, is still at an age where fluctuating form is to be expected.
He has made tremendous progress since becoming a regular in the Yorkshire side but felt a little jaded last year after a long period of constant cricket – not only for Yorkshire, but also at England representative level.
“I understand that players go through these periods and I’ve had a rest in the winter and recharged my batteries so to speak, and I just want to score heavily and consistently again,” he said.
“The biggest thing for me last year was that I was mentally fatigued.
“I’d been playing consistently for two-and-a-half years, without a real break, so coming into the season I’m wanting to play rather than having to play, if you like.
“I think a good rest has, hopefully, done me the world of good and I’m really looking forward to batting again.”
Yorkshire are backing Lees to bounce back strongly.
They have made him their permanent one-day captain after Andrew Gale stepped down towards the end of last summer to concentrate on leading the Championship team.
Lees – who, like Gale, has the bearing of a natural leader – said the club have focused strongly on improving their one-day skills during the winter.
He led them to the Royal London Cup semi-finals last summer and he wants to build on that achievement, as well as oversee a much-improved showing in the NatWest T20 Blast.
“One-day wise, we’ve had a real sense of upskilling with regards to our bowling and batting during the winter,” he said.
“Last year, we didn’t execute well enough with bat and ball. Our thought processes were quite good, but we didn’t nail it.
“So we’ve had a big focus on one-day cricket, and in particular focusing on the actual skills.”
Lees feels Yorkshire can do well in all three tournaments but does not want to look too far ahead.
“The key to our success in the Championship has been taking it one game at a time,” he said.
“And that’s what we’ve got to continue to do. Once you’ve won a Championship, I think you find a method of winning, which helps.
“If we just try to be as consistent as we can this season, hopefully it takes us there or thereabouts.
“But I have a genuine belief that we can compete in all three competitions.
“You need a little bit of luck along the way, but we’ve got a great squad.”