Lees on a mission as he returns to happy hunting ground with title in sight

ALEX LEES wants to rekindle his love affair with the home of cricket and end a challenging season in style.

ALEX LEES: Returns to Lords where he scored his maiden  first-class century.
ALEX LEES: Returns to Lords where he scored his maiden first-class century.

The Yorkshire batsman returns to Lord’s tomorrow, the ground where he made his maiden Championship hundred two years ago.

Lees hit 100 exactly to help Yorkshire to a 10-wicket win in an innings that marked him down as a top young player.

After scoring 623 Championship runs so far this year at 32, compared with 971 last year at 44, Lees is hoping that the magic of headquarters once more brings out the best in him as he targets a prolific finish to the summer.

“Lord’s is a ground with happy memories for me,” said Lees, 22-year-old left-hander.

“It’s where I got my first Championship hundred, and it’s obviously a very special place.

“I’ve been searching a bit this year, having only had one Championship hundred so far.

“Hopefully, the home of cricket brings out the best in me and I can get some runs to help us win.”

Lees, whose solitary hundred this season came against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in April, has experienced the peaks and troughs that all young players inevitably go through.

He started the season in style, passing 50 in four of his first five Championship innings, before going 13 innings without a four-day half-century.

However, an unbeaten 58 against Worcestershire at Scarborough, followed by 69 against Sussex at Hove, was complemented by half-centuries against Worcestershire and Leicestershire in the Royal London Cup.

Lees appears to be “threatening a big one”, as the saying goes, and is eager to deliver in the last three games.

“It has been a difficult year at times,” said Lees, who hopes to become Yorkshire’s permanent one-day captain after leading the club to the Royal London Cup semi-finals after Andrew Gale’s decision to concentrate on leading the four-day side.

“I think I was probably a bit fatigued coming off the back of the winter programme (Lees spent time playing in Sri Lanka and South Africa) and it has been a bit of a challenge at times.

“Now I feel I’m hitting the ball nicely after a natural break in the season.

“Hopefully, I’ll finish off the season well and take that form into next year.”

Lees has been ever-present in the Championship team this year as Yorkshire close in on a second straight title.

To say that the title is a formality is an understatement; the club need only five of a possible 72 points from their last three games to guarantee the prize.

In reality, Yorkshire probably already have enough points in the bag as that calculation is based on their rivals extracting maximum reward.

Bonus points at Lord’s should be more than enough to seal the deal, with any bonus points that second-placed Middlesex miss detracting from the five that Yorkshire need to eliminate them mathematically.

“We only need a few more points from our last three games, but we want to win all three games and set a benchmark,” said Lees.

“We’d like to get the record points haul if we can (Yorkshire need 17 to beat Sussex’s First Division record of 257 in 2003, and 26 to beat Somerset’s overall record of 266 in Division Two in 2007).

“We’ve got a job to do first at Middlesex, and we know that they’re a dangerous side.

“We just want to keep driving it home and it would be great, too, if we could go through the Championship season unbeaten.”

Yorkshire complete their season against Hampshire at Southampton (September 14-17) and against Sussex at Headingley (September 22-25).