ALEX LEES warmed up for the start of LV= Division One season on Sunday by hitting an outstanding century against Northamptonshire on the second day of Yorkshire’s practice match at Wantage Road.
The 20-year-old opener reached three figures in just 91 balls and his 106 included 17 boundaries and a six.
However, Gary Ballance’s side lost five wickets in the second session and it needed an unbeaten half-century from Steve Patterson to help the visitors reach 316 all out, a first innings lead of 33. Northants have yet to begin their second innings.
Kane Williamson made just 11 runs yesterday but the New Zealander could scarcely be more enthusiastic about the prospect of representing the White Rose this summer.
“I really enjoyed my time with Yorkshire last year. The boys are great and the management’s fantastic,” he said.
“To get the opportunity to come back is very nice and it’s something I’ve looked forward to throughout the season in New Zealand,” he said. “It’s a fantastic set up with all the history behind the club and the staff are excellent.
“Headingley is a great place to learn your cricket and that showed in our performances on the park last year.
"It’s a great opportunity for me to learn from the staff and I’m hoping that collectively we can do really well. You learn a great deal playing so much and in different conditions. It’s always a nice challenge and it’s one I’m looking forward to.”
Williamson returns to Yorkshire having made a valuable contribution to the New Zealand national side and he has very warm memories of his own involvement, even though international calls and Northern Districts' involvement in the Champions League in September may limit his availability for Yorkshire.
“It’s nice to be part of a young New Zealand team who are learning a lot and improving a lot,” he said. “The most pleasing thing was to put together consistent performances.
“That triple century from Brendon McCullum against India just topped it off. It showed the characteristics he’s asking for and it’s something none of us will forget. It epitomised our season.
On Sunday the Yorkshire players will be at Taunton where Yorkshire begin their County Championship campaign with a four-day game against Somerset. Williamson is under no illusions about the importance of making a good start to the competitive season.
“It’s a bit of a hike but the guys are all chomping at the bit and every game will be targeted,” he insisted. “This first one is no different.”
Joe Root may not be back in action until the end of the month but there was a moment to savour for the 23-year-old England batsman yesterday morning when he was named in the prestigious Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack as one of the Five Cricketers of the Year.
However, there was no news of York-based Jonny Bairstow’s consultation with a specialist at Leeds yesterday. The England wicketkeeper-batsman injured his finger on the first day of the game at Northampton.