Yorkshire rookies eye batting place

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Jonny Bairstow is on England duty in New Zealand Jonny Bairstow is on England duty in New Zealand

Alex Lees and Jack Leaning can take advantage of the absence of some star names from Yorkshire’s pre-season tour of Barbados to put their names forward for regular first-team cricket this summer, according to Anthony McGrath.

The 19-year-old batsmen have yet to play in the County Championship.

But with England and Lions trio Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and Gary Ballance absent, they are in line for plenty of game time during the next fortnight.

McGrath’s retirement leaves Yorkshire with one batsman less having not signed a replacement, while it remains to be seen how much Root and Bairstow will feature this summer.

At this stage, the smart money would be on Bairstow playing more for Yorkshire than Root because of his limited international appearances so far this winter.

It would be a surprise if Bairstow did not start the Championship season next month after returning from New Zealand.

But, even with Bairstow around, there would still be one more batting place up for grabs for either Lees, Leaning or Joe Sayers because Root is likely to be rested by England early on.

“They’ll be very excited to be going to Barbados without Joe, Jonny or Gary Ballance, which provides them with a great opportunity to put their names forward,” said McGrath, who retired last month.

“We don’t know what will happen with international call-ups. Gary had a great tour of Australia with the Lions, which also puts him in the frame for more representative cricket.

“There’s going to be opportunities at Yorkshire, and Andrew Gale and Jason Gillespie will be looking for people to put their hands up.”

McGrath has played with both men in the seconds in recent years and likes what he has seen.

“Alex has got a really good temperament. Not only does he work hard, he wants to study the game,” he continued. “I’d say that out of the younger players I’ve seen, Alex is kind of working out his game the quickest and he knows his strengths and limitations.

“His concentration is his best ability. He’s not someone like a Lythy who you’ll say ‘blimey, look at all them shots’. He’s more of an accumulator.

“Having said that, you’d have said Rooty was like that. But once you get into the professional environment, you can develop quickly.

“I’ve only batted with Jack a couple of times. He’s a bit more of a shot player I’d say. But what impresses me with Jack is that he’s always asking questions. That’s something I always look for in a young player.”

Yorkshire’s first match on tour is an intra-squad two-day fixture, which starts on Wednesday.

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