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Alex Lees reflects on "disappointing" England axing as he eyes second chance with Lions

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In October Alex Lees became the first casualty of England’s ‘Bazball’ era when he missed out on a central contract and was subsequently dropped for the tour of Pakistan.

Lees had featured in all seven Tests under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum up until that point and, although he admits should have made more of some of his promising starts, he feels his runs “probably didn’t reflect the impact I did have in some games”.

His axing came just one Test after Managing Director of England Men’s Cricket Rob Key insisted the incumbent openers would be given a “proper go” and Lees ended the summer with 327 runs at an average of 25.15 across seven Tests while opening partner Zak Crawley, who was handed a central contract, made 276 at 23.00.

“I think it’s human nature,” Lees reflected. “If anybody has some news that they’re not particularly happy with in sport, or life, I think there’s a natural distaste in your mouth. I was disappointed when I got dropped.

“I’m sure I wasn’t amazing to be around for a couple of weeks but I think those sorts of things always ground you and give you a good perspective on life. I’m very fortunate I have two young children and a very supportive wife.

“I spoke to Rob Key and also Brendon… I think it’s always challenging when you’re in those positions to make those decisions, but obviously they felt like it was a decision they needed to make. I wasn’t a dead cert to go to Pakistan, I’m not naive about that.

“My runs probably didn’t reflect the impact I did have in some games. Some of the run chases, in particular. What can you do? It’s happened and you can’t affect it so you’ve obviously got to get your head down and move forward.”

Despite getting dropped Lees remains firmly on England’s radar, having been named in the Lions squad which will play two four-day Tests against Sri Lanka A next month, and the 29-year-old remains hopeful he will get a second chance.

Lees does remain on England’s radar and is hopeful of earning a recall
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Visionhaus/Getty Images)

“The messaging has just been about keep trying to go away, keep developing my game and keep trying to play in the manner the Test team is now playing,” he explained. “The days of scoring 100 at a 40 strike rate are gone, particularly under this regime, so you’ve got to buy into that.

“Through county cricket I think there’ll be a clear ripple effect from the Test team downwards: if you have any ambition to play for England, as they’ve shown, they won’t be selecting people if you don’t play in that manner.

“It is still my ambition to play Test cricket – once you experience something and you like doing it, you want to do more of it. I’d love to experience that environment again and I think if I do, my biggest learning from this summer is that I need to make big hundreds.

“I’ve just got to keep staying in my lane and keep trying to develop as a player. It might not necessarily be this year but over the next couple of years, while I’m still young enough, hopefully I can be afforded another opportunity at some point.”

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