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ENG vs NZ | Have to turn starts into substantial innings, reckons opener Alex Lees

Since Sir Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss's retirement, England has struggled to find a decent opener in red-ball cricket. A new entrant to their scheme of things is Yorkshireman Alex Lees, who made his debut against West Indies in March.

Lees scored 25 and 20 runs in the Lord's Test against New Zealand last week, where the second innings knock was, according to him, his most fluent knock so far.

Speaking ahead of the Trent Bridge Test, Lees said: "Last week was probably the most fluent innings I've had to date. I was pleased in the manner I played but the obvious thing is that I have to take that and turn it into a substantial inning. To be praised for a 20 is probably bittersweet. If you can get a good 20, you know you can probably make 60, 70, 80. I keep getting in and out, which is frustrating."

The four-Test old scored 171 runs at an average of 21.37, so observing past openers is a good start. The 29-year-old opened up about his batting approach as an opener.

"When you open the batting you face the best bowlers, sometimes at the worst times. I've always enjoyed getting through a spell or a tough cricket day of cricket is something that I've always quite enjoyed… it's that old Yorkshire stubbornness. There's always going to be speculation about the top order in England… I just never really wanted to shy away from the challenge of it," he explained.

England captain Ben Stokes praised Lees for his knock of 20 in the second innings of the Test, which the batter feels could have been much better.

"It's not putting pressure on myself to make a double-hundred this game, but I'm aware I'd love to make a good score. It's trusting how I play and I played nicely in that second innings, so if I can take that forward and play in that manner over a period of time, the law of averages suggest I should get that contribution. That's what I'm striving towards," Lees stated.

The left-hander is confident that his role in the Brendon McCullum-coached side is all about playing free-flowing cricket. The second Test of the series will be played at Nottingham starting on Friday.

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