Cameron Bancroft 'a no-brainer' as Durham captain, says stand-in Alex Lees
Stand-in skipper supports decision to appoint Australian in wake of nine-month ban for ball-tampering
Alex Lees says that Cameron Bancroft has the full support of his Durham team-mates after being announced as the club's captain for the County Championship and Royal London Cup campaigns this season.
Bancroft hit the headlines last year for his involvement in Australia's ball-tampering scandal in their Test series against South Africa. He was banned for nine months by Cricket Australia, but that not deter Durham from securing his signature for the coming campaign.
Bancroft has since made a successful return to cricket in Australia, and has been confirmed as the successor to Paul Collingwood as skipper for the four-day and 50-over formats when he arrives at Emirates Riverside.
Lees believes that the decision to appoint Bancroft was a good move by the club, allowing other players time to develop on the field without the burden of the captaincy.
He said: "I think a few fans and cricket spectators may have been surprised. On the field here over the last couple of years it has been indifferent. There are a lot of guys who may have played a lot of cricket, but maybe aren't assured of their place in the team.
"It was a tough decision to make, but for me it was a no-brainer. There's a mix of experience and inexperience in the squad. Even if it's for a year or two years it allows the squad to develop and leadership qualities will appear from other members of the team. Once we settle then there will be a clear path for leadership roles.
"[Director of Cricket] Marcus North knows Cameron quite well. He has said he's the right man and we support that. It gives the team a chance to bed in and 12 months down the line we will definitely know where we're at with the squad of players."
Lees was seemingly a strong candidate for the captaincy, but Durham chief executive Tim Bostock revealed that the former Yorkshire player turned down the role.
The opener has admitted that he wanted time to focus on finding his form at the crease after a couple of lean years. However, Lees is comfortable assuming the role on a short-term basis for the County Championship opener against Derbyshire due to Bancroft's absence.
Lees added: "I needed to dedicate a little bit of time to myself to get back to scoring regular runs for Durham, producing match-winning contributions. I think that was the first and foremost plan I had moving from Yorkshire to here.
"It's nothing something I'm looking at this particular moment in time. My main focus is scoring runs. Captaincy is something I have done in the past, and I've got no apprehension of what it's going to be.
"It's a perfect situation. I can do a couple of games here and there for the team, but when Cameron comes I can then concentrate on scoring as many runs as I can. Hopefully in the same way as I did at the start of my career."
Durham travel to Derbyshire for their County Championship opener on April 5 before hosting Sussex a week later when Bancroft is expected to make his debut for the club.