“PRESSURE?” snorted the legendary Australia all-rounder Keith Miller when asked how he coped with the stresses of cricket.
“Pressure is a Messerschmitt up your backside.”
Miller flew fighter planes during the Second World War so had a different perspective to most.
But even in the relatively trivial world of professional sport, there is always that expectation and onus to perform.
Going into this season, there was certainly pressure on the shoulders of Yorkshire’s Ben Coad.
Last year, the 24-year-old was the club’s leading wicket-taker in the County Championship with 50 at an average of 20.86.
You always want to get some wickets under your belt first up, so to do that (against Notts) was huge for me.Ben Coad
As such, there were some who wondered whether Coad would be able to back-up his stunning breakthrough season.
But the doubters were answered by a haul of 10-130 in last week’s match against Notts at Headingley, a performance that proved he is no flash-in-the-pan.
As Yorkshire prepared to take on Somerset in Taunton today, seeking to follow-up their 164-run win over Notts, pace bowler Coad said: “Over the winter, people were saying a lot about the pressure on me coming into this year after what happened last year.
“But I’ve actually come into the season with more confidence knowing that I can do it and I think that’s just helping me even more.
“You always want to get some wickets under your belt first up, so to do that (against Notts) was huge for me.
“Hopefully, that will set me up now for the rest of the season.”
Coad took advantage of helpful bowling conditions in Leeds, getting some lovely shape away from the right-handers and also bringing the ball back in: a weapon that kept the batsmen guessing.
It remains to be seen what conditions are presented in Taunton, where the pitches have spun in recent times, prompting Yorkshire to include left-arm spinner Karl Carver in a 13-man squad.
“Looking at their game last week (Somerset against Worcestershire), there were a lot of wickets for the seamers and it was quite green, but I’m not sure they’ll prepare that for us,” said Coad.
“We’ll have to see what happens, and we know it’s going to be tough in Taunton whatever the pitch.
“It won’t do as much as it did at Headingley, but we go into the game full of confidence and can hopefully keep the momentum going.
“It was great to start off with a win and it’s a good platform for us, especially with a number of games coming up on the road.”
This is the first of four successive Championship away games for Yorkshire, who visit champions Essex next week before travelling to Surrey the following week. After the break for the Royal London Cup, they visit Hampshire towards the end of June.
“Hopefully, it will be a case of same again for us in the next few weeks” added Coad.
“We’ve got some tough opponents coming up, but it’s a very tough league and every side is a good side.
“As I say, to get that win first up is massive and a big boost to confidence. We’ll just try and keep that rolling as best we can.”
Like Yorkshire, whose opening match against Essex at Headingley was completely washed-out, Somerset go into the game having won their only fixture to date.
They saw off Worcestershire by 83 runs at Taunton, where Yorkshire prevailed by three runs last year in thrilling style.
Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire first team coach, is expecting another stern examination.
“It’s always a tough place to go, Taunton,” he said.
“They’ve obviously come off the back of a good win as well, so they’ll be confident going into the game.
“I’ve looked at the footage of how they won last week, and they’re not playing on sandpits anymore, so it will be interesting to see what pitch they prepare.
“But we’ve got enough options to cover all bases.”
Gale was thrilled with the win against Notts, particularly as Yorkshire have had to contend not only with enforced inactivity but also with Indian Premier League call-ups and a number of injuries.
On that injury front, Steve Patterson is expected to be back in contention for the trip to face Essex at Chelmsford following a broken finger, but fellow pace bowler Matthew Fisher is unlikely to return prior to the Royal London Cup in mid-May.
“It’s been tough for us, and I thought the lads would have been a little bit rustier (against Notts) in all honesty,” said Gale.
“But their attitude has been great and they’ve trained really hard, and I was really pleased with how they performed.
“It’s only one game, and we’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves, but we’ve got a good togetherness and spirit in the squad.
“We were determined to start off well and can take a lot of confidence from how we performed.”