JASON GILLESPIE has hailed York youngster Jack Leaning’s contribution in his breakthrough season of LV= County Championship cricket.

The 20-year-old right-hander, who debuted last season but only played one division one match against Surrey, has taken advantage of Kane Williamson’s absence for international duty to cement his place in the team this term.

While Williamson was away with New Zealand, Heworth’s Leaning batted at three in the order before dropping down to six when the Kiwi returned for last week’s win over Middlesex at Scarborough.

Leaning has scored 304 runs from six matches at an average of 38, including 99 against Sussex at Arundel last month.

Having hit 52 in the second innings of the win against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road in early June, a knock played in the search for quick runs ahead of a declaration, he hit 76 in similar circumstances at Scarborough last week.

He shared 182 for the fifth wicket with his captain Andrew Gale, who also described Leaning’s emergence this year as a bonus in the light of the England call-up for Gary Ballance.

“I think he’s a bright young skilful player, a good little player,” said Yorkshire coach Gillespie. “He’s taken his opportunities well. He had a great 99 down at Arundel and, although he was disappointed not to be able to get to three figures, I said to him ‘it’s just one run’.

“We knew how important his contribution was in the game against Middlesex. I can’t speak highly enough of him. It was a very selfless knock as well.”