Yorkshire v Somerset, Headingley, 1st day September 23, 2014

Lees anchors Yorkshire struggle

Press Association

Yorkshire 241 for 9 (Lees 83, Leaning 50*) v Somerset

Alex Lees dedicated his county cap to his late father, Simon, after he provided Yorkshire's batting ballast on a day when the champions struggled to impose themselves on the first day of their final match at home to Somerset.

Lees began with the personal milestone of 1000 Championship runs this season a feasible ambition - and after making 83 in one of two possible remaining innings, he took his tally to 952 on the day he was awarded his county cap.

"I think it's fair to say that it's my proudest moment thus far in my life really," Lees, who lost his father Simon to cancer three years ago, said. "I lost my dad in 2011, so that was a tribute to him. He brought me up and spent countless hours in the garden with me. Unfortunately, he never really saw me as a professional - so to come through and be capped this morning really touched me. It was quite an overwhelming feeling.

"Some people have different drivers, and for me I just want to do the right thing and make my dad proud to keep performing. I was disappointed not get a hundred."

Yorkshire, who won their first title in 13 years when they beat Nottinghamshire two weeks ago, have the collective incentive of modern history in the making - victory here would carry them to a record points tally since the advent of two divisions. By the close of a day shortened by bad light to 78.2 overs, Lees and a gritty Jack Leaning, with an unbeaten 50, helped bank just a solitary point - 241 for 9 taking the champions to 247 points overall.

After Yorkshire won the toss on a hazy morning, Lees and Adam Lyth - whose opening partnership has been such a cornerstone of their team's success this summer - began as if to extend their combined reputation. Peter Trego conceded 18 runs from his first seven deliveries, as he and Alfonso Thomas struggled initially to find their line.

Both left-handers were under way with early boundaries. But the prolific Lyth's occupation was short-lived this time after edging Thomas low to slip in the fifth over to depart for 10. Gary Ballance also fell cheaply, stuck in the crease to another good delivery from Thomas and edging some late movement behind.

Joe Root, once again captaining the side in the absence of the suspended Andrew Gale, was then twice dropped, in a sketchy stay. But he could take only minor advantage, helping Lees to add 63 for the third wicket before Jamie Overton - back for his first Championship appearance since mid-summer - had him inside-edging on to his stumps on 35.

Jonny Bairstow went early in the afternoon, bowled off his pads by the much-improved Trego, who took 3 for 66 - so it fell to Leaning to give Lees deserved support. The opener continued to bat without alarm and with occasional adventure but was eventually fifth out, driving on the up at Trego and edging behind.

Adil Rashid crunched a low return catch to Tim Groenewald to depart without scoring and when Rich Pyrah was lbw pushing forward to the same bowler, Yorkshire had lost three wickets for only eight runs.

The onus was therefore on Leaning to add to his three previous first-class half-centuries if Yorkshire were to eke out a par score on a surface unarguably giving the bowlers a little help. He and Steve Patterson at least earned a first batting point, and Leaning was still in situ with last man Jack Brooks when the players left the field for the second and last time to bring an early close.