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York batsman Jack Leaning's 2014 ambition
10:53am Friday 11th October 2013 in Sport
YORK batsman Jack Leaning is aiming to use his winter down under as a springboard to the Yorkshire first team, writes Graham Hardcastle.
Leaning jets off to Australia on Monday for a winter with Sutherland, the club side coached by former Tykes batsman Phil Jaques.
The teenager impressed in league and second XI county cricket in 2013 before making the step up to the Yorkshire first team for his LV= County Championship and Friends Life t20 debuts.
While things did not initially go to plan for the right-hander, who scored a duck in his maiden Championship appearance against Surrey, he bounced back in style with 5-22 in a Yorkshire Bank 40 match against the Unicorns and then 60 a few days later against Somerset in the same competition.Heworth-based Leaning, who also bowls off-spin, is now confident that he can force his way into Yorkshire’s first-team plans on a more regular basis in 2014.
“I was pretty pleased with how the season went, especially how I started,” said the former England under-19s man. “I started really well in the second team, particularly in the shorter form of the game. I was also very pleased with how it finished in the first-team, getting a five-for and a fifty.
“I loved the experience of playing in the first team, and it made me want it more. Hopefully I can push for a more regular place in the side in all forms.
“Sometimes you don’t adapt as quick as you’d like, and it takes longer. I just needed one thing to go right, which it did. It was a big boost to my confidence.
“Until you do it, you’re never really going to know how you play and what the step up’s going to be like. Once you get a taste of it, you can gauge how well you’re doing. I know what I have to do to adapt now.
“You want to play at as high a level as you can. Hopefully I’ll have a good time away, a good pre-season and take my chance if and when I get it in the first team.”
Ironically, Jaques’ departure from Yorkshire last month to concentrate on his coaching career with Sutherland has opened up a spot in the top order for Leaning to aim at.
“Hopefully he can pass on his knowledge and experience to me, which will stand me in good stead to achieve my aim,” added Leaning, who described making his Twenty20 debut in a Roses match against Lancashire at a packed Old Trafford in July as “an incredible buzz”.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, to play a season abroad. I get on with Jaquesy really, and it was the perfect opportunity to fulfill that.
“I think he will be a great coach. He’s played the game at the highest level, so he’s got all the knowledge. He’s very good around people, so I expect him to be very successful.”
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