Lees leads from front with maiden ton
Yorkshire 215 for 2 (Lees 100*, Gale 61*) v Middlesex
Alex Lees scored an unbeaten century in only his third Championship match to lead Yorkshire to a commanding 215 for 2 against Middlesex on a day shortened by persistent drizzle and bad light at Lord's.
With rain stopping play four times and bad light bringing a further interruption, it was not easy for the batsmen to maintain their concentration but Lees showed he had a sound temperament as well as a solid technique by reaching his century in the penultimate over in dazzling sunshine. He had been batting more than four and a half hours and faced 221 balls when he swept off spinner Ollie Rayner nervelessly for his 11th four to complete his second first-class hundred.
Middlesex must have fancied their chances against a Yorkshire side missing their England trio of Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Tim Bresnan as well as Gary Ballance (virus), Jack Brooks (broken thumb) and Moin Ashraf (stiff back).
They did not mind bowling first, either, after Yorkshire won the toss and chose to bat in overcast conditions but they were to be denied by Lees, who made 121 against Leeds/Bradford MCCU earlier in the season but had managed only 12 runs in his three previous Championship innings. A powerfully-built, 6ft 3in left-hander, he withstood a thorough examination from Tim Murtagh and Corey Collymore with the new ball, applied himself diligently and received his due reward.
Yorkshire had lost Adam Lyth for 11, caught low down at first slip off Murtagh, at 32 and Phil Jaques, caught behind off Gareth Berg, at 70 but Lees got all the support he needed from Andrew Gale, his captain, in an unbroken third-wicket partnership of 145 in 53 overs.
Lees played and missed a few times early on and there were a couple of streaky fours through the slips, including the one off Neil Dexter that took him to his fifty off 116 balls but he was growing in confidence all the time. Gale, fresh from his monumental 272, the 13th highest score in Yorkshire's history, against Nottinghamshire at Scarborough last week, was a reassuring presence as he batted with great assurance to reach 61 off 165 balls with five fours.
It made it a chastening day for Middlesex, who began the game joint second with Yorkshire, only five points behind first division leaders Sussex. They had further cause for concern when James Harris pulled up with a side strain in his fifth over. Curiously he stayed on the field, presumably so he will be able to bowl straight away if his condition improves overnight.