Boycott prophecy fulfilled on Lees
Derbyshire 94 for 5 trail Yorkshire 617 for 5 dec. (Lees 275*) by 523 runs
He's a good judge of a character is that Geoffrey Boycott. Just six months after the Yorkshire president earmarked left-handed Alex Lees as a star of the future, the 20-year-old gave the Boycott's words further credence by becoming his county's youngest ever double centurion on a pacey pitch at Queen's Park.
It was at the marquee event of Yorkshire's 150th anniversary year at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield in January that Boycott said: "We are still providing some very good players for England, including Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow. There are also a couple of kids you may not know too much about coming through. We've got another one in Alex Lees, who is about three years away. I think he's very good.
"I just like everything about him. I watch technique very closely, but I also watch out for their mental application. I like the whole package with him. He'll get a game or two this year for Yorkshire. But don't expect too much too soon. Len Hutton played his first games for Yorkshire and England and got nought. I got four and four in my first appearances."
After a record breaking 275 not out from 436 balls in his county's mammoth 617 for 5 declared here, Lees has eclipsed Boycott and moved just behind Hutton on the list of Yorkshire's highest ever individual scorers.
The opener played strongly all around the ground - he was particularly commanding on the pull - and was part of a number of records to tumble, most notably Yorkshire's youngest to 200 at 20 years and 95 days - 130 days Richard Blakey's junior when he ran Gloucestershire ragged at Headingley in 1987.
He shared a 311-run stand for the second wicket with Phil Jaques during yesterday's opening day, the county's highest partnership for that wicket in first-class cricket against Derbyshire before posting the third highest score on this ground, the equal eleventh highest in Yorkshire's history and the highest since Darren Lehmann's 339 against Durham at Headingley in 2006.
Lees, born in Halifax and still the captain of the Yorkshire Academy side, also contributed to Yorkshire's third highest score on this ground and the ninth highest in their history as he notched his second Championship hundred in three matches. His first was at Lord's last month.
It has not been an easy couple of years for Lees, whose father Simon died of cancer in May 2011. He subsequently turned down the opportunity to tour in the following winter with England Under-19s to support his mother, a move Yorkshire and the ECB were fully behind. He acknowledged the heavens at every major milestone, of which there will surely be many more.
"You work really hard as a young lad and then as an adult," Lees said. "Times like this are really rewarding and extra special. I really do enjoy the moments. I've worked hard over the years, and my late father would be rather happy. They are extra special when you have something on it."
There was another acknowledgement from Lees, but one on a far more of a light-hearted note. Director of professional cricket Martyn Moxon is here looking after the team whilst Jason Gillespie is absent on compassionate leave, and Moxon's career best score was 274. So when Lees topped that, he raised his bat to a cheering visitor's balcony: "I just pipped him there. I've taken Frog down!" Lees quipped.
Yorkshire then backed up their domination with the bat by restricting Derbyshire to 94 for 5 in their reply. Steve Patterson and Jack Brooks struck twice apiece, and with two days left title-chasing Yorkshire virtually home and hosed already.