KANE WILLIAMSON has hailed the form of Yorkshire young gun Alex Lees in this summer’s NatWest T20 Blast.
Lees has earned the praise of the classy New Zealand batsman having scored 284 runs from eight matches, including two half-centuries against Derbyshire. The left-hander is the county’s leading Twenty20 run-scorer.
It is a haul which has helped the Vikings to close in on a quarter-final place, something a win over Birmingham Bears at Headingley tonight would secure.
The 21-year-old Lees and Williamson batted together briefly during Sunday’s win over Derby at Chesterfield. They shared 36 for the second wicket before Lees recorded a career best 67 off 44 balls.
“That innings was unbelievable, and he has done it consistently, which is the most pleasing thing for him and the team,” said Williamson.
“When he came to the crease, I was just happy to get the ones and give him the strike. I was in the best seat to watch.
“It’s a great thing for a young player. His four-day game is obviously going very well, so to be able to adapt and do it so quickly in a different format is extremely positive going forward.”
Yorkshire have put themselves in a great position to qualify for the last eight for the second time in three seasons thanks to successive wins over Durham and Derby within three days.
They currently lie second in the North Division knowing that two more wins from their final group matches against Birmingham and Nottinghamshire, also at Headingley next Friday, will secure them a home draw in the quarter-finals.
Williamson returned to the team to open after international duty in the West Indies, including captaining the Kiwis in two T20 internationals, and he described the Yorkshire wins as “very clinical”.
“They were two surfaces which were somewhat different, but the way we adapted and played smart cricket was something which we took out of both games,” he added.
“The thing you need to be in this format day in and day out is extremely brave and confident, particularly with the bat, because you have to keep playing your shots whatever the situation.
“I think that would be a major positive for our team from the last two games after a couple of slow ones while I was away.”
Williamson will return to LV= County Championship action against Middlesex at Scarborough tomorrow, replacing Australian Aaron Finch.
Finch will remain with Yorkshire until the end of the month at least to complete the North Division campaign. He is then due to head back to Australia for a national training camp, although an extended stay for the knockout stages is not yet completely out of the question even though it is unlikely.
He has shown some excellent form in the Championship, but his T20 form has been poor aside from the 88 he scored against Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford last month. He has only managed another 66 runs from seven innings.
But coach and compatriot Jason Gillespie has backed him to come good in the next week: “He's a class act, and he's working incredibly hard,” he said.
“He's had a match-winning knock for us already in T20, and I'm sure there will be some more before he leaves. Hopefully he can score some big runs at the right time.”