Alex Lees epitomises what is different about England’s batting in new era | Andy Bull

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Opener struggled for form in the West Indies but a change in approach and mindset has brought runs and boundaries

Mid-March, England were playing West Indies at Bridgetown and Alex Lees was batting. Lees had made four and six on his debut the previous week and here his partner, Zak Crawley, had just been caught behind for a duck. Kemar Roach was bowling. Roach tried a wide one outside off, inviting Lees to drive. He left it. Roach followed with two more in the same sort of place and again Lees refused to play at them. So Roach switched around the wicket, tried bowling straighter, twice, and Lees blocked both deliveries; Roach tried to slide one across him, tempt him again, with a final wide ball and Lees left it.

Lees ended up batting for 3hr 11min in that innings, and made 30 runs. A week later in Grenada he batted for 2hr 25min and made 31, and then another 3hr 41min on top of that for 31 more while the team collapsed to 120 all out around him. They ended up losing by 10 wickets. By the time he had finished his first Test tour, Lees had faced 460 balls, hit exactly 12 of them for four. It felt like an approximation of what he imagined, or had maybe even been told, was the right and proper way for a good Yorkshire‑born opener to play.

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Written by Andy Bull at Edgbaston
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