Ben Lees made the most of his opportunity to impress by compiling an excellent half century to help Shropshire’s cricketers enjoy a winning start to their NCCA Trophy campaign.
Shropshire’s cricket manager Ian Roe was delighted to see wicketkeeper-batsman Lees, who turned 18 in March, underline his potential during the three-wicket victory against Northumberland.
Batting at seven, Lees walked out to bat with Shropshire, replying to Northumberland’s total of 240, 123-5.
He then struck seven fours in hitting 50 off as many balls, as he helped turn the game Shropshire’s way by putting on 112 for the sixth wicket with captain Graham Wagg.
Lees, who plays his club cricket for Bridgnorth after starting off at Allscott Heath, had earlier produced an accomplished wicketkeeping display, holding on to two catches and also completing a stumping.
“Ben made the wicketkeeping look very easy,” said Roe. “Then when he went into bat, he was mentored really well by the captain.
“Graham Wagg took the pressure off Ben, which enabled him to play his own natural game.
“To score 50 at a run-a-ball against a strong Northumberland side is a credit to Ben for his attitude and all of the hard work he puts in.
“That’s not just at Bridgnorth, not just with the county club and the academy, but also the tireless work he puts in at Shrewsbury School, where he is first-team captain.”
Roe, who is also Shropshire’s Head of Academy, enjoys working with Lees and is impressed by the progress he continues to make.
Having played regularly for the county’s academy side in recent seasons, Lees was handed his competitive first-team debut by Shropshire just over two years ago, aged 16, in a Unicorns T20 victory over Herefordshire at Wrekin College.
He was then called up to represent Shropshire in a number of friendlies before being selected for his second competitive county appearance in Shropshire’s opening NCCA Trophy game of the season, with Roe presenting him with a county cap to wear before the game at Oswestry.
Roe said: “I’ve known Ben before he was in the academy and he was in the Shropshire Cricket Board set up.
“He was always a player of great promise and he’s one of the most humble, respectful players I’ve ever worked with. He’s very attentive, very watchful and he absorbs everything you tell him.
“Ben joined Bridgnorth several years ago and he’s well liked at the club because of his outstanding work ethic.
“He’s a popular lad, not just in the dressing room and on the pitch, but around the club as nothing is ever too much trouble for Ben. He’s got a very mature head on his shoulders.”