YORKSHIRE president Geoffrey Boycott believes the county will continue to produce England internationals to follow in the footsteps of Tim Bresnan, Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root – and has earmarked batsman Alex Lees as a potential star of the future.
Boycott is delighted by the development of young guns Root and Bairstow in particular, but has warned against throwing the former up the order in Test cricket too soon after his excellent start at number six against India before Christmas.
It is a similar story with Lees, a left-hander who has played two first-class and two List ‘A’ matches for the first team since debuting in 2010, including a Clydesdale Bank 40 match against Warwickshire at Scarborough last August, in which he opened the batting and scored 23.
The former England opener believes we should not expect “too much too soon” from the 19-year-old, who captained Yorkshire’s second team last season.
But he added: “We are still providing some very good players for England, including Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow. There are also a couple of kids you may not know too much about coming through.
“We’ve got another one in Alex Lees, who is about three years away. I think he’s very good.
Just mark it down in three years time because he’s quite young.
“We’ve got one or two others coming through a good Academy system. We’ll lose one or two to other counties I’m sure – you can’t win them all. But we’re still providing plenty of very good players.”
Lees has scored 2,217 runs from 62 second-team matches across all forms, including 11 fifties and three hundreds. He scored a career-best 204 from number three against a combined Kent and Northants team in 2011.
“I just like everything about him,” continued Boycott. “I watch technique very closely, but I also watch out for their mental application. I like the whole package with him.
“To play Test cricket successfully you need to have the ability to play under pressure with a good technique.
“He’ll get a game or two this year (for Yorkshire). But don’t expect too much too soon. Len Hutton played his first games for Yorkshire and England and got nought. I got four and four in my first appearances.
“It’s not the end of the world.
But what you watch out for is whether they learn from that.
He’s got plenty of time.”
There has already been support for Root to replace Nick Compton as England’s Test opener – the position he bats in for Yorkshire – for the New Zealand series in March after his debut 73 in the fourth Test against India in December.
“I think he’ll be a terrific player like Jonny will be – I’ve never had any doubts about that,” added Boycott.
“It was a good and wise move to put him in the middle order.
It’s a good place to play your first Test in India because it doesn’t do very much after the new ball.
“I still wonder if it’s a bit early for him to play up front against the new ball. New Zealand don’t have many good quicks at the moment, but it can move off the pitch and through the air over there.
“It’s like England where you can get some really good batting pitches and others with plenty of juice in them.
“But you’re going to get other places like Australia where you could come up against the lad who was our overseas, Mitchell Starc, bowling at 90 miles per hour swinging it and bouncing it. It’s a little bit tougher than facing a new ball in somewhere like India.”