Chris Waters: Ben Coad at the forefront in bid to break into Yorkshire’s ‘Dad’s Army’ pace attack

Ben Coad is one of the emerging stars at Yorkshire (Picture: Tony Johnson)
Ben Coad is one of the emerging stars at Yorkshire (Picture: Tony Johnson)
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IT would be a tad premature to attach the term ‘Dad’s Army’ to Yorkshire’s pace attack, but it is clearly awash with seasoned campaigners.

Ryan Sidebottom is 39 and retires at the end of the season.

Steve Patterson is one of the more seasoned bowlers Yorkshire have relied on for years.

Steve Patterson is one of the more seasoned bowlers Yorkshire have relied on for years.

Steve Patterson is 33.

Jack Brooks, Tim Bresnan and Liam Plunkett are all 32.

Five players, therefore, on the wrong side of 30.

With Sidebottom a freakish exception in terms of longevity, with most pace bowlers having hung up their whites by around their mid-30s, there will clearly come a time in the not-too-distant future when those brilliant bowlers will have to replaced.

Indeed, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Coad’s early-season form – which he attributes to putting on a yard of pace during the winter and his work with the Yorkshire coaches – is the fact that he has looked the team’s best bowler.

Chris Waters

To that effect, there has been no more heart-warming development in the formative weeks of the season than the flowering of Ben Coad, who went into the current game against Hampshire in Southampton as the leading wicket-taker in the Championship First Division.

The 23-year-old, who had hitherto made only one Championship appearance, against Durham last summer, collected 18 wickets in the first two games to suggest that Yorkshire have unearthed another potential diamond, someone who can help to sustain the pace bowling threat so integral to the club’s recent success.

One hesitates to get carried away, for there are few things more prone to fluctuation in sport than the form of young players.

Indeed, there is a tendency nowadays whenever a young bowler takes a five-wicket haul to immediately laud him as the next big thing and to mark him down as England material. Such expectation can quickly become suffocating and detrimental to the player’s development.

The next generation: Ben Coad leads the new crop of Yorkshire bowlers pushing the countys seasoned campaigners. (Graphic: Graeme Bandeira)

The next generation: Ben Coad leads the new crop of Yorkshire bowlers pushing the countys seasoned campaigners. (Graphic: Graeme Bandeira)

As such, it is perhaps wise to content ourselves for the time being with the observation that Coad has done a truly excellent job since being parachuted into the first XI due to an injury crisis that still leaves Messrs Sidebottom, Brooks and Plunkett sidelined.

So much so, that even if Yorkshire had their full complement of bowlers available, it would be a gross injustice to leave Coad out of the side to accommodate players of superior experience.

Indeed, perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Coad’s early-season form – which he attributes to putting on a yard of pace during the winter and his work with the Yorkshire coaches – is the fact that he has looked the team’s best bowler.

That is intended as no disrespect to the likes of Patterson and Bresnan, who continue to give outstanding service, but purely as a compliment to Coad, whose accuracy has been as notable as his wicket-taking output.

Indeed, there is perhaps no greater compliment full stop than to assert that Coad has blended the wicket-taking power of a Brooks with the metronomic accuracy of a Patterson – a heady hybrid indeed.

Nor is he the only youngster who could eventually replenish Yorkshire’s pace bowling ranks.

At 19, Matthew Fisher is commonly held to be one of the most exciting prospects in the country, and another who could flourish very soon.

Yorkshire also have young pace bowlers James Wainman (24) and Jared Warner (20), while England all-rounder David Willey (27) is viewed as the man who can uphold the left-arm variety provided by Sidebottom.

Perhaps the hardest challenge in any sport is to win in the short-term while developing for the future.

As proved by Coad’s emergence and that of other young players in recent times, Yorkshire are threatening to get this down to a fine art.