FOR a time at Headingley on Saturday there seemed an outside chance that Yorkshire pace bowler Ben Coad might take all 10 wickets in the Hampshire first innings.
To say that the feat is a rarity is an understatement.
There have only been 80 instances of ten wickets in an innings in first-class cricket – the last in England by Ottis Gibson for Durham against Hampshire in 2007.
Just four Yorkshire bowlers have achieved it: Hedley Verity with world-record figures of 10-10 against Notts in 1932; Alonzo Drake with 10-35 against Somerset at Weston-super-Mare in 1914; Verity again with 10-36 against Warwickshire in 1931, and Ken Smailes with 10-47 against Derbyshire in 1939.
But when Coad took his sixth wicket early on the second morning, having captured 5-18 on the first evening, the statistically-minded were twitching with excitement.
Could Coad, 23, join this esteemed list on only his second County Championship appearance?
He certainly looked as though he could take a wicket with every delivery.
However, a 10-wicket haul is not dependent solely on the bowler’s skill, but on the chaps at the other end remaining wicket-less.
When one of those chaps happens to be the former England all-rounder Tim Bresnan, the chances of that happening are pretty slim. So it was as Bresnan joined the wicket-taking act, capturing the last four as Hampshire were removed for 141 in reply to Yorkshire’s first innings 273.
For the record, Coad finished with figures of 17-5-37-6, and Bresnan with a return of 13.5.-3-53-4.
The question now is: What happens when Yorkshire’s frontline bowlers come back from injury?
Coad was only playing as Yorkshire are without five leading bowlers, with Ryan Sidebottom, Jack Brooks and Liam Plunkett all injured, and with David Willey and Matthew Fisher having only recently returned to second team action after injury.
But Yorkshire should have a clean bill of health in the very near future and a selection headache when it comes to their bowlers.
On this evidence, it would be a tough call indeed to leave out Coad, who also shone in the club’s opening first-class game of the summer, against Leeds-Bradford MCCU.
It was not so much Coad’s six wickets against Hampshire that caught the eye, and the fact that he dismissed some fine players in the form of Jimmy Adams, James Vince, Michael Carberry, Sean Ervine, Rilee Rossouw and Kyle Abbott.
It was the accuracy that the young man displayed.
There was barely a bad ball as he charged in with a smooth, lithe run-up from the Football Stand end, barely the suggestion of a half-volley or long-hop.
It was as if he had combined the metronomic accuracy of Steve Patterson with the wicket-taking power of Jack Brooks.
Coad was undoubtedly the pick of the attack.
He has put on pace in the winter and immediately answered the call of director of cricket Martyn Moxon, who wants to see more young players putting up their hands.
Coad could be a bowler to watch in the coming months.