ALEX LEES last night said he would jump at the chance to become Yorkshire’s permanent one-day captain.
Lees’s men were knocked out in the semi-finals of the Royal London Cup yesterday when they lost by eight wickets to Gloucestershire at Headingley.
It ended Yorkshire’s hopes of their first County Championship and one-day cup double and was naturally a great disappointment to Lees, appointed temporary one-day captain until the end of the season when Andrew Gale stepped down last month.
But rather than see it as the end of his captaincy journey, Lees wants to stay on and help build on Yorkshire’s efforts this summer and take them forward in the one-day game.
“If I get given the opportunity to be one-day captain next year then it would certainly be something I’d enjoy,” said Lees, the 22-year-old opening batsman.
“Hopefully, we can build a one-day team for the next few years and I’d relish the chance to keep leading the side.
“It’s something I’ve always enjoyed, captaincy, and if the club feel that I’m the best man for the job then I’ll enjoy that responsibility and take it on.
“Whatever happens, happens, and we’ll see which way the club want to go.”
Yorkshire are waiting until the end of the summer before deciding on a permanent replacement for Gale, who remains in charge of the four-day side.
Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire’s director of cricket, has previously stated that the one-day leader is likely to be chosen from the current squad, making Lees the No 1 favourite.
Last night, first-team Jason Gillespie confirmed that the talented opener is firmly in the frame and said Lees had impressed all with his collected approach.
“Alex has really impressed us with his leadership and his calmness out there on the ground,” said Gillespie.
“We’re not going to make any decisions on the leadership of the short-form team right now, but Alex is definitely in the frame, without a doubt.
“He hasn’t done his chances any harm whatsoever, and I think he’s done very well.
“The lads have responded positively to him, and we’ll review everything at the end of the season and make the best decision in the interests of Yorkshire.”
Lees seemed likely to be leading Yorkshire out at Lord’s in the final later this month when the club made an excellent start to yesterday’s match.
Lees himself shared an opening stand of 103 in 18 overs with Adam Lyth after Yorkshire were sent into bat, Lyth top-scoring with 96.
But as happened in the quarter-final against Essex at Chelmsford, Yorkshire’s innings fell apart like a weak argument.
From 159-2 in the 29th over and 198-3 in the 36th, they managed only 263-9 from their 50 overs, Gloucestershire romping home with 19 balls to spare thanks to Michael Klinger (137) and Hamish Marshall (78).
“We were bitterly disappointed to have lost,” said Lees. “We started the game so well and Adam played beautifully.
“We got ourselves into a brilliant position and were disappointed that we didn’t get over 300.
“If you get 300 in a semi-final that’s scoreboard pressure, but it just wasn’t our day.”
Yorkshire were without Liam Plunkett, who dug them out of a hole at Chelmsford with an unbeaten 49 to help lift them from 202-9 to 252-9.
But neither Plunkett nor Adil Rashid were made available by England for yesterday’s game.
“One thing we probably do struggle with in one-day cricket is being unable to field the same team,” said Lees.
“I think Gloucestershire have used just 14 players in the whole competition, and it’s something that we can’t control when players are away with England.
“We’re just trying to build a base and, hopefully, we’ll have some success in the near future in one-day cricket.
“We’ve got a young side, and they’ll come back stronger for the experience of this semi-final.”
Lees’s words were echoed by Gillespie, who felt Yorkshire did not do themselves justice on the big occasion.
“We’re a better side than that,” said Gillespie.
“To make the semi-finals is a good effort, but we’re never satisfied and we want to be better.
“Michael Klinger and Hamish Marshall showed our players how to play, how to construct an innings, how to be ruthless out there. The way they played was excellent, and hopefully our batsmen can learn from those two guys.”
Jonny Bairstow will miss Yorkshire’s County Championship match against Middlesex at Lord’s on Wednesday after he was called into England’s one-day squad.
England have chosen to rest first-choice wicketkeeper Jos Buttler for the last three games of the series against Australia, with Bairstow back having been surprisingly omitted from the squad in the first place.
England coach Trevor Bayliss said: “While we initially felt Jos would have enough left in the tank for this ODI series, it has become clear in the last couple of days that he will benefit from a break from cricket ahead of the winter tours.
“We know that for players involved in all formats finding periods throughout the year when they can rest is key, and Jos has had a heavy workload.
“Resting players provides opportunities for others in the international arena, and Jonny Bairstow now has a chance to build on the one-day form he showed at the end of the New Zealand series earlier this summer.”
Match report: Page 9.