By Rob Barnett
Having faced the likes of Tim Bresnan and Steven Finn in the Brisbane nets, England Performance Programme batsman Alex Lees is looking forward to some match action this week.
The 20-year-old Yorkshire left-hander has spent the last 10 days at the new Cricket Australia High Performance Centre where the Ashes squad members not involved in the first Test trained with the EPP players.
Lees, who enjoyed a breakthrough season with the White Rose in 2013, has been selected to play in the first of two EPP practice games, this one versus Queensland Second XI at Brisbane’s Allan Border Field from tonight.
He will line up alongside Bresnan, who is stepping up his recovery from a stress fracture of the lower back, in a line-up led by Varun Chopra. Bresnan's inclusion will offset the loss of fellow seamer David Willey, who was yesterday ruled out of the rest of the EPP trip with a lower back injury.
Lees told ecb.co.uk: “I'm really looking forward to playing cricket and being put up against a decent side that will test the skills I’ve been working on over the past few weeks.”
Lees, who along with the rest of the EPP party went to the last day of the Gabba Test, added: “The guys who haven’t been involved playing (in the Ashes Test) have been training hard with us, looking to keep ticking along on their own games.
“It’s been great to have them around and obviously the standard of nets just goes up a level when they are with us.
“People like Tim Bresnan, Steve Finn and Gary Ballance, they haven’t been involved so they’ve come down and had a hit and bowl, just keeping themselves ticking over.
“It’s really good to face the Test bowlers. You try to raise your game and they’re a good set of lads as well.”
As well as training alongside current England players, Lees has been working with a former one in batting coach Mark Ramprakash.
“We’ve been training really hard and I’ve been working on tweaks to my game, working particularly closely with Ramps and the seamers,” Lees explained.
“I’ve just been trying to develop myself as a player. Then I’ve been having a bit of down time and going into Brisbane, going to some nice eateries and going to the beach. It’s been a real good mix so far.”
Lees was chosen for the EPP on the back of 500 LV= County Championship runs, including 275 not out against Derbyshire, another ton and a fifty, this year in 14 innings at an average of 45.45 as Yorkshire were runners-up on their return to Division One.
“I didn’t play that many games. I did okay,” Lees, who represented England Lions versus Australia in August, modestly said. “This for me is a real added bonus to get my teeth into and try to come back a better player.”