Alex Lees vows to show he has what it takes to fit in with Bazball on the England Lions tour

Alex Lees vows to take the chance to show England manager Ben Stokes and captain Brendon McCullum he has what it takes to fit Bazball after being called up for the Lions tour of Sri Lanka

Alex Lees says losing his place in England has left a bad taste in his mouth but insists he has the expansive game to force his way back into Test competition.

Lees became the first real victim of England’s ultra-aggressive approach when he was deemed a little too slow to start a Test inning after their spectacular summer and was banned from the tour of Pakistan.

But he has a lifeline with selection for the two Lions Tests against Sri Lanka that start later this month and wants to show he has the shots to fit Bazball.

Opener Alex Lees (above) was the first real victim of England's ultra-aggressive approach

Opener Alex Lees (above) was the first real victim of England’s ultra-aggressive approach

“When someone gets news they’re not happy about, there’s a natural revulsion in your mouth,” Lees told Sportsmail after missing out on the 3-0 win in Pakistan. “That’s human nature. I wasn’t great being here for a few weeks after getting the news but things like this always ground you and give you a good perspective on life. It happened, so you just have to accept it, put your head down and move on.

The question is whether the Durham opener really has the shots to convince Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum that, despite his 30th birthday, he’s still worth investing in as Ben Duckett has one in his place in Pakistan makes a really good impression.

Lees began his Test career in the most conservative manner in the Caribbean last year, making just 126 runs from 450 balls in three Tests, but attempted to return to the attacking strokes of his youth during the transformative summer in England.

He finished the season with a top score of 67 and praise for his role in opening partnerships with Zak Crawley that gave England something of a launchpad, but still averaging just 23.84 from his 10 Tests with a crucial batting average of just 43.06.

Lees was thrown a lifeline with selection for the two Lions Tests against Sri Lanka

Lees was thrown a lifeline with selection for the two Lions Tests against Sri Lanka

“Gone are the days of hitting 40 hundred points, especially under this regime,” Lees admitted. “So you have to get into the new way and there will be a clear ripple effect through county cricket.

“I don’t see myself as a limited player. When I made my West Indies debut, the emphasis was on the first innings, no matter how slow or how long it took to get them. At the time, I was just trying to conform to the team ethos.

“Earlier in my career I played more in the style of the current regime, particularly when I started out in Yorkshire, because the wickets have had a bit more carry compared to England in recent years. So last summer I wasn’t feeling bad at all, I just had to tap into another part of my career.

“I played competently but just lacked that big score that obviously makes the difference as a top player. My biggest reflection is one of disappointment for putting myself in good positions but not capitalizing on them.

So Sri Lanka is something of a last chance. “It’s still my ambition to play Test cricket – if you’re doing something and you like it, you want more of it,” Lees added. “If I have any aspirations to come back, I have to keep playing the way England want me to play. You have to do as much as you can to get better at it.’

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Maureen Mackey

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