Cricket

Alex Lees is set for a busy summer with Yorkshire.

New limited-overs skipper Alex Lees set for busy summer with Yorkshire

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Yorkshire have demonstrated great faith in Alex Lees, by naming the young opener as their new limited-overs captain this summer.

Lees, who took over when Andrew Gale chose to step aside from leading Yorkshire's white-ball teams last August, was named as a permanent successor during the winter and will be in charge for both the NatWest T20 Blast and Royal London One-Day Cup campaigns.

Just turned 23, he is Yorkshire's youngest captain since Lord Hawke took on one of cricket's most onerous jobs in the 19th century.

It is fair to say too that the tall left-hander has plenty on his plate already, to restate his credentials as one of the most promising openers in England after his mediocre returns last summer.

He made a slow start to that venture, before underpinning a first-innings 290 all out against Nottinghamshire in the Specsavers County Championship clash at Trent Bridge with a battling 92 this week.

Soon enough, though, Lees will have to spread his focus to the white ball - the Blast begins at the end of this month - and the challenge of plotting Yorkshire's avowed intent to bid for silverware across the formats this year.

He acknowledges collective improvement is needed, and is confident it will be forthcoming, after group-stage Twenty20 elimination and a semi-final exit in 50-over cricket in 2015.

"We have 20 really talented and skilful cricketers, who maybe didn't practise as well as we could have done [last summer]," Lees said.

"Our thought process was very good. But when it came down to the wire, we didn't execute - with bat and ball."

Yorkshire's Roses match Blast defeat at Headingley is a case in point.

Lees said: "I remember in that Lancs game, (Jos) Buttler whacked it all over ... our thought process was good, but with the skill level we just didn't quite nail it.

"I don't think it was ignorance, or over-confidence.

"I think it was just a little bit of mis-direction. I think as players we need to make sure we are consistent in our practice, and just that little bit sharper."

He is optimistic.

"I think we'll be okay," Lees said.

"Over the last few years, with the red-ball success ... I think to look in a little bit more detail in (limited-overs) skill was the biggest thing."

Yorkshire were hard at work doing just that, even before the season began - with first-team coach Jason Gillespie devising and overseeing refined drills.

"We have had a bit of a focus on one-day cricket, trying to simulate indoors as much as we can," said the Australian.

"We've put the gym mats underneath the matting, just to slow the wicket down.

"We've had the big blue mats put up around the wicket, as targets for gaps in the field."

Yorkshire's attack, so feared in the longer format, have also been having specialist tutorials.

Gillespie added: "We're challenging our bowlers, because we feel in one-day cricket our bowling probably hasn't been as good as we know it can be.

"So we're challenging bowlers to be really specific with their preparation."

There is also the matter, from the outside at least, of ensuring the right dynamic between Lees and his predecessor.

Gale remains in charge of the back-to-back champions in four-day cricket, of course - and Lees does not envisage any problems over selection, or man-management.

"I don't think it's an Andrew Gale thing, or a Yorkshire thing," he said.

"It's just, the people who perform (will) play.

"It's what's best for us as a team. If Andrew is in that XI, he's in it; if he's not, he's a strong enough guy to try to get into it.

"I believe he has the desire. Ultimately, it's down to what is best for Yorkshire.

"Playing at a team like Yorkshire, you have six or seven leaders in any team - so in that respect, I don't think there will be any issue whatsoever."

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