The Yorkshire County Cricket Club can confirm that opening batsman Alex Lees is to join Durham on a three-year deal.
Left-hander Lees, 25, will initially link up on loan for the remainder of the 2018 season and will be available for Durham’s Specsavers County Championship fixture against Glamorgan at Sophia Gardens on August 19.
Halifax-born Lees, who made his First-Class debut for the club in 2010, has amassed just shy of 5000 runs in 89 First Class matches, averaging 34.53. He has played 46 List A fixtures and 37 T20s and was named as captain in both white ball formats, aged just 22.
He also helped the club win back-to-back County Championship titles in 2014 and 2015 and topped 1,000 Championship runs for the first time in his career in 2016.
Director of Cricket Martyn Moxon said: “It’s very much a case of mixed feelings. We’d very much prefer Alex to be scoring runs for us but obviously, this season, things haven’t worked out for him. Having discussed it at length with him, I think it’s generally felt by Alex and us, that for his future career, it’s probably the right move. We wish him well and every success going forward.
“I fully expect him to excel when he moves on. It’s incredibly difficult and this year has been tough for him and I think it has come to the point for him that it’s the right thing to do; to make a clean break and have a fresh start. That’s a difficult decision for him to make and we’ve spoken to him at length about that, but I think overall it’s the right decision for him going forward.”
Lees added: “I think naturally there’s a bit of disappointment. I’ve probably been an important part of the team for the past five years or so and to now be leaving makes it bittersweet. I am looking forward to playing up at Durham now and playing more cricket.
“Under Jason Gillespie I probably flourished, but the last 16 months I just haven’t been as fluent as I’d have hoped to be. It has been quite difficult and I haven’t played much cricket, which I’ve found quite tough with my rhythm and fluidity, but I think a new challenge, a new set of players, new check-points and targets is something I’m looking forward to.
“There are a few stand-out moments and the obvious one is winning back to back Championships, getting my County cap is something I dreamed of from a very young age, and thirdly captaining the Club at a very young age; that sort of experience can only put me in good stead moving forward down the line. During that period we were a top team and I played a role in winning those Championships and that coincided with my cap and captaincy; it was a really great period for me.
“I know I can replicate that form and being just 25 makes me believe my best cricketing years are still ahead of me.
“I’m very much looking forward to getting playing again at Durham. It’s a good club with some great lads and I think it has been obvious the last couple of years haven’t gone as well as I’d have liked. The prospect of moving on is really exciting.”