Alex Lees went through highly-charged emotions as Yorkshire presented him with his county cap and he repaid them instantly with yet more runs at the top of the order against Somerset.
The 21-year-old was overcome yesterday morning in the moments before captain Andrew Gale handed him his cap as champions Yorkshire prepared for their final home match of the season.
Lees’ runs, along principally with those of his opening partner Adam Lyth, have underpinned the White Rose’s charge to a first title since 2001 – and he was at it again at Headingley, with 83 out of 241-9.
After his latest half-century, taking himself to within 48 runs of 1,000 championship runs for the summer, Lees spoke eloquently about his achievement – and his father.
“I think it’s fair to say that it’s my proudest moment thus far in my life really,” said Lees, whose father Simon died of cancer three years ago, in the infancy of his son’s professional cricket career.
“I lost my dad Simon in 2011, so that was a tribute to him.
“He brought me up and spent countless hours in the garden with me.
“Unfortunately, he never really saw me as a professional – so to come through and be capped this morning really touched me. It was quite an overwhelming feeling.”
Lees’ quest for runs has helped him form a prolific partnership with Lyth – and he confirmed he is far from satisfied yet.
“Some people have different drivers, and for me I just want to do the right thing and make (my dad) proud to keep performing,” he added.
“I was disappointed not get a hundred.”
Gale will not be surprised to hear that, saying: “He always had the technical attributes but was always quite stubborn and I think that’s worked in his favour.
“When you’re a young lad coming into the side, sometimes you just want to stay there and you’re happy with a 30 or 40 – but he (always) wanted to make big hundreds.
“He is disappointed if he’s out for 150 because he wants to make 200.”
Gale, unable to take the field in Yorkshire’s final two fixtures of the season because of a two-match ban from the England and Wales Cricket Board after his altercation with Lancashire’s Ashwell Prince, was delighted to be able to do the honours with Lees’ presentation.
“One of the good things about being captain is seeing the young lads when they come through and see how hard they worked,” he said. “Leesy was crying his eyes out in the dressing room this morning.
“For a young lad he’s been through a lot in his life, with the passing of his dad a few years ago.
“For him to be rewarded with his county cap was quite emotional, not just for himself but for the other lads in the dressing room.”
Northamptonshire have released veteran all-rounder James Middlebrook.
Middlebrook joined Northants in 2010 after stints with his native Yorkshire and then Essex.
Middlebrook, 37, has taken more than 450 first-class wickets and made 10 centuries.
Northants coach David Ripley said: “We would like to place on record our thanks to James for the contribution he has made throughout his time at Wantage Road and, in particular, for the leadership role he has taken during what has been a particularly difficult season in 2014.
“He leaves with the best wishes of everyone at the club.”