JASON GILLESPIE has hailed the rapid development of York CC star Jack Leaning after his maiden hundred for Yorkshire in Monday’s Royal London one-day Cup defeat to Essex at Scarborough.
Although the 20-year-old Leaning debuted in all forms of first-team cricket prior to 2014, he has cemented a place in the County Championship and one-day teams through a weight of runs this summer.
He has scored 304 runs from six Championship matches with three fifties, including a 99 against Sussex at Arundel, and has added 219 from six one-day matches ahead of today’s Group A clash against Derbyshire at Scarborough.
Leaning, who also bowls useful off-spinners, is the Vikings’ leading run-scorer in that competition thanks to one fifty and Monday’s ton, a 99-ball unbeaten 111.
This has all come after a winter spent playing for Australian grade side Sutherland under the watchful eye of Phil Jaques, a man who earned the nickname of Pro during his playing career in Australia and England.
“At the start of the season, I had an idea of what the team was going to be, and Jack has demanded his selection through his performances in the second team,” said coach Gillespie.
“He’s got his opportunity, grabbed it with both hands, and that’s all you can ask of players. He’s been fantastic, and hopefully he’ll continue to improve and learn every time he goes out in the middle.
“I think it really helped that he spent the winter playing for Sutherland, and he spent a lot of time with Phil Jaques. So much so, the boys call him Pro now.
“There is pressure being the overseas player and being expected to score runs. Although he actually didn’t score that many, he was getting wickets.”
Leaning’s innings was the main positive out of the five-wicket defeat against the Eagles as he helped his side recover from 55-3 in the 15th over to post 290-6. Unfortunately, Essex also recovered from 68-4 in the 14th to win with 25 balls to spare.
“He’s becoming more aware and understanding situations and reading situations,” said Gillespie.
“Andrew Gale spoke about that after the game. They were out in the middle talking, and they would acknowledge that maybe they could have had a bit more intent. That’s coming from a 20-year-old. He’s acknowledging that, so he’s learning. It’s fantastic and great for the club.
“He can at times look a bit scruffy. I don’t mean to be negative about him, but he’s a real scrapper. You get some other players that people say look elegant, and I wouldn’t say that is a word you’d use for Jack because he can be quite brutal and punishing.
“When Galey left himself out at Middlesex, he played a second-team game against Lancashire at Headingley. It was on a green, seaming pitch that was doing a lot, and Jack fought and got a good score in tough conditions. That really impressed the captain.
“He said he toughed it out in a difficult situation, and that’s probably a real strength of Jack’s.”
Meanwhile, York-based Jonny Bairstow will be rested today after England Lions duty, meaning Andrew Hodd will retain the gloves as Yorkshire search for the win that will secure a quarter-final berth.