Halifax cricketer Alex Lees and Yorkshire are a match made in heaven.
That’s the view of team-mate Jonny Bairstow on the man tasked with trying to bring the Royal London One-Day Cup home to Headingley this season.
The 23-year-old Lees, a former Bradshaw, Illingworth and Lightcliffe player, was appointed Yorkshire’s youngster-ever limited overs captain in December, succeeding Andrew Gale who led his county to the Royal London One-Day Cup semi-finals last term.
And England wicketkeeper Bairstow thinks opening batsman Lees has the strength of character to ensure those foundations are built upon and the season ends with limited overs silverware for the first time since 2002.
“He’s a typical stubborn Yorkshireman, it’s fantastic really, old school,” said the wicketkeeper-batsman, who has played in 31 limited-overs matches for England.
“It’s a great opportunity for him, I think he’ll just come in and let the lads play like we know we can.
“I think it will be a learning curve at the same time, but everyone’s learning and growing with each other.
“I’m sure he’ll take the role on his shoulders and go with it.”
The Vikings kick-off their campaign against Worcestershire on home turf on Tuesday, with the competition as a whole kicking off 48 hours earlier.
They are set to take on Derbyshire, Northamptonshire and Lancashire before the end of the month, followed by matches with Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, 2014 winners Durham and conclude against Warwickshire.
The top four teams in each group will reach the quarter-final stage with the ultimate goal a place in the final at Lord’s on September 17.
Bairstow, 26, believes it’s hard to pick a winner, but sees no reason why Lees and Yorkshire cannot be among the front-runners.
“There are a lot of very strong teams, it’s an open competition, literally anyone could win,” he added.
“I’m pretty sure at the start of last season not many people would have said Gloucestershire would win it but everyone can beat everyone in this competition on your day.
“That’s what makes it exciting, you have got to be on your game all the way through the competition and when it comes to those latter stages it’s knockout competition if you’re off for an hour or even a couple of overs you can get knocked out of that competition.
“It was a good stepping stone last year to get to the semis and then we didn’t play our best cricket in that semi-final.
“They were deserved winners Gloucestershire and they’ll be challenging again but I don’t see why we can’t go one step further this year.”
As proud sponsors of the One Day Cup, Royal London is giving away match tickets to see the action live. Visit royallondoncricket.com to enter