Sri Lanka A Emerging Players v England Lions, Colombo, 1st day February 6, 2014

Lees leads Lions to strong start

ESPNcricinfo staff

England Lions 327 for 5 (Lees 119) v Sri Lanka A Emerging Players

A second top-order batsman showed his potential for England Lions inside a week as Alex Lees made a century to lead his side into a strong position on the opening day of the second tour match in Colombo.

Sam Robson made three figures in the opening fixture and Yorkshire's Lees, 20, here provided more optimism for England supporters left wondering where the national side can turn to after the carnage of the Australia tour.

Lees's fourth first-class century outshone his more highly regarded opening partner, Varun Chopra, who fell for 47, but the pair added 152 for the opening wicket, raising eyebrows at the decision of Mahela Udawatte to bowl first.

After 15 boundaries in 216 balls, Lees fell to Shehan Jayasuriya who also trapped James Taylor, captain for this match, lbw for 47, the type of score Taylor curses - enough to show he's a good player but far from a figure to seduce selectors.

Taylor's dismissal was the first in a mini-collapse of 3 for 42, where the Lions rather gave up their dominance, and when Jonny Bairstow fell five overs from the close for the third middling score on the card, the opposition were left with not such a bad day.

The Lions' preparation for this game included a visit to the Sri Jinananda children's home in Colombo, home to 67 orphaned boys who were each presented with a tennis ball by the players to practise their cricket with.

Lees's practice, with tennis balls or otherwise, proved adequate as he put the Lions in a position from where they can dominate the match.

"I think every hundred that I get is slightly emotional no matter where I am," he told the ECB's website. "I like to think it means the same no matter where I am. But obviously when you're representing your country at any level it's very, very pleasing and that emotion comes in afterwards.

"On the subcontinent the new ball's very important. Me and Varun were fortunate enough to get over that. We had a little bit of luck - I think you always need that in any innings - and we got through that and put on a real good opening first stand."