Alex Lees made his debut for the Bay of Plenty in the Hawke Cup, currently 208 not out as the defending title holders are 367-3 at stumps on Day 1/3
Coincidentally I happen to be holidaying in the land of the White Cloud for a few weeks, currently in Tauranga. Luck might have it the Bay of Plenty were at home this weekend so naturally I had to go over to the Bay Oval and see how our Yorkshire opener gets on.
I arrived shortly before lunch to see Bay of Plenty around 67-1. With a very basic scoreboard it took a while to spot Alex Lees in the middle, but was recognised once he was doing his trademark back of the bat angle checking prior to facing a delivery.
The pitch looked used, presumably from New Zealand's Twenty 20 matches against Bangladesh and runs had to be earned. Lees made run scoring so easy, almost having all the time in the world to play his shots and looked untroubled against a relatively oiled Manaku Counties bowling attack. The BoP opening batsman played more diligently in comparison and faced accurate bowling, but was under no.pressure to score when Lees kept the scoreboard ticking.
Lees seemed to play more with more aggression, than his usual technically correct game and upped the ante by playing cutting the ball, pulling and driving past the covers for four. When the spinner came on, Lees soon used his feet going down the track and hitting over the bowlers head for six.
Even when Lees was scoring freely, he did offer a couple of half chances. One shot narrowly went over the top of short cover for 4, nicked a ball past an empty 2nd/3rd slip cordon and nicked one off the spinner which went over a fairly close 1st slip fielder. His timing not precise, but understandable given the slowish wicket and still a fair way from match sharpness. In all fairness to Manaku Counties, they fielded really sharp in the hot and sunny weather at a standard almost at County Championship level.
As Lees reached his century, he briefly held his bat up to the pavilion in front of around 30-40 spectators outdoors. Eventually his batting partner and BoP opening batsman fell on 86 trying to slash the spinner off a rank delivery but was caught off point. Manaku Counties got a couple more quick wickets, which Lees slowed down the scoring rate to his usual County Championship game.
Lees was briefly involved in an exchange with the opposite spin bowler, which Lees pulled out of batting just as the bowler was at the point of delivery and the ball hit the stumps. Umpire called a dead ball, much to the annoyance of the bowler who exchanged further words with Lees maintaining his rights. Next delivery, bowler pulled up at the point of delivery in a game of kidology, but Lees had the last laugh who created the following ball past covers for 4.
As Day 1 was nearing a close, Lees upped the ante to get towards 190. A few members of the crowd was getting excited at the possibility of a debutant scoring a double century. Lees carefully got close to the landmark, before playing a shot at long off for 3 to reach 200, which was greatly appreciated by spectators and celebrated modestly with a held up bat and handshake with the batting partner before stumps was called. His new team mates keenly made their way outdoors to congratulate such a fine knock.