Alex Lees has always fancied himself as a bit of a chef, so it was no surprise to hear him talking about the Yorkshire squad’s visit to the Japanese Teppanyaki restaurant in Leeds as being “right up my street”.
“I absolutely love Asian food,” said the top order batsman.
Over the last couple of years, Lees has even documented his love for the kitchen on his social media accounts.
“I cook quite a bit at home and do some food reviews. I’ve called it the Halifax Food Review on my Instagram,” he continued.
“I probably cook six out of seven evenings and really enjoy it. Myself, my friends and my fiancée try to find different places and little gems.
“I thought I’d document it for a bit of fun.
“I’m trying only to do positive ones. I don’t want to slate anyone because everyone tries.”
It has been a pretty busy start to the winter for Lees, both with Yorkshire and the early stages of their winter programme, but away from the game too.
The 24-year-old continues to study for an online business management diploma, he has got engaged and is even learning to play the guitar.
Life after cricket is a big part of the county scene, especially during the winter, with clubs and the PCA heavily involved in their development.
For Lees, the trip to Teppanyaki gave him a potential glimmer into his future.
“I could definitely see myself with a little bar or cafe that does paninis and is full of homemade baking,” he went on. “But I’m not sure about a restaurant and the pressure of cooking for people large scale.
“I’ve grown up cooking. My grandma took me for cooking lessons at a young age with my brother.
“Teppanyaki have been unbelievable having us all down like this, and we could come down after a day’s play during the summer for a bite to eat. It’s all pretty healthy too, which is great.”
The trip into Leeds was an important part of the squad’s winter programme, with team bonding highlighted as crucial to Yorkshire success.
It was interesting to hear not just Lees speak about how that kind of thing was perhaps missing last season for one reason or another.
According to the left-hander, it was no coincidence they struggled in the Championship.
“The obvious thing for us as a team is to do something away from cricket,” he explained.
”In the winter and summer, we spend so much time together, almost living with each other in the summer. And we just wanted to do something away from cricket that we can all enjoy.
“It maybe takes some people out of their comfort zone and helps us find out a bit more about team-mates. There’s young lads just coming into the squad for example.
“That was perhaps missing a bit last season, with things just feeling a bit disjointed, not through anyone’s fault.
“My belief is that with the Championship, more often than not the team that wins is the one with the best team spirit. That was shown with Essex.
“For the four years we were aiming for titles and winning a couple, you’d come in and everyone was having a great time and enjoying each other’s success.
“The same thing probably didn’t happen last season.
“People will say ‘You didn’t play that well’. But we didn’t play that well the year before and we were still challenging.
“A lot of that is how your are with team-mates and coaching staff.
“You don’t need to be best mates with everyone, but what makes a great team is knowing different characters, which helps you compete.
“If we’re being honest, we perhaps tried to look after ourselves a bit more than usual, and that’s probably because we seemed to be in bad form at the same time and were looking after ourselves.
“We know we can be a real strong team, and these kind of things are little stepping stones.”
Lees endured a difficult season in 2017, struggling for runs in the Championship and left out of large parts of the limited overs campaigns.
He is, however, very confident things will be different in 2018 on the back of a productive winter in the nets at Emerald Headingley.
“I’m staying at home this winter (he spent the second half of last winter in New Zealand),” he added. “There’s a few technical things I’ve been working on.
“I’ve changed my back lift and base. I’m trying to bed them in. I’ve been batting for a couple of weeks, and it’s about making them feel normal.
“They’re not massive changes to the eye, but when you’ve done something for so long, small changes can feel weird and unnatural for a while.
“I’m really excited about batting.
“I think they’ll make me a better player.
“In terms of last season, you reflect on it and see where you can improve. But in my mind, it was pretty much a write off. There weren’t many highlights.
“I can’t affect what’s happened, so I’ve got to move on.
“The biggest thing is to learn from it.
“I want to minimise the chances of having a season like that again.
“Hopefully it makes me a better cricketer for the next 10 years of my career. Then I can look back on last season fondly in terms of it being the best learning experience possible.
“Fingers crossed, the next few years see me as a real consistent figure in a successful Yorkshire team.”