YORKSHIRE CCC sent out a press release last night announcing that Ben Coad had won all three of the club’s major end-of-season awards, which were presented at Elland Road.
“The prodigious 23-year-old, with a pun-hungry surname, collected awards for Members’ Player, Players’ Player and Young Player of the Year,” the press release noted.
Certainly no one came close to “cracking the Coad”, if you pardon the most obvious pun, during a season in which Yorkshire, collectively, were a little too easy to figure out, only narrowly avoiding Championship relegation.
While opposition sides deciphered them to a disappointing extent, in particular a batting department that proved simple to fathom, seam bowler Coad provoked similar havoc around the shires, taking 50 Championship wickets in his first full season at 20.86.
“He’s been a revelation really,” enthused Yorkshire’s director of cricket, Martyn Moxon. “He worked hard last winter and has had a different outlook on his bowling since last year in the second team and has carried that on this season.
“Ben was looking to be more aggressive and take more wickets, as opposed to being a defensive bowler, and it has paid dividends.
“He’s worked hard on his skills and had a fantastic season, and, hopefully, he can build on that and continue to improve and really become an outstanding first-class cricketer.”
Coad, who was also short-listed for the Professional Cricketers’ Association Young Player of the Year Award, won by Essex’s Jamie Porter, had only played one Championship game prior to this season.
But he served immediate notice of the improvements to which Moxon alluded by capturing 6-37 in the club’s opening Championship match this year against Hampshire at Headingley.
A brace of five-wicket hauls followed in an innings win over Warwickshire at Edgbaston, followed by a career-best 6-25 against Lancashire at Headingley.
Coad remained a model of consistency throughout a campaign in which Yorkshire’s next-highest Championship wicket-taker was Tim Bresnan with 27.
A comparatively late developer by modern standards, Coad only got his chance through injuries and ended up keeping established players out of the side.
“Some players develop at different speeds or at different times,” reflected Moxon. “I would say changing his mindset to be more aggressive was the biggest thing, and he’s grown into that very quickly.
“To run in hard day-in, day-out, you’ve got to be physically prepared and that’s what he’s worked very hard on. He’s now able to maintain that intensity for long periods of time.”
Coad, whom Moxon also described as “a very down-to-earth lad”, polled 53 per cent of the members’ vote, the other principal contenders being captain Gary Ballance (14 per cent) and Adam Lyth (nine per cent).
The Harrogate-born seamer, who recently signed a contract that will keep him at Yorkshire until at least the end of next year, admitted that he had been pleasantly surprised at how things have gone.
“I made my debut at Durham last year and it didn’t go too well, so for it to go how it has done this year has been a bit of a shock,” he said. “But I think I’ve taken it all in my stride and kept going.
“I’m very happy with how I’ve played given it’s been my first full season in the squad, and I’ve certainly been happy with the wickets I’ve got.
“To get 50 in the Championship is always the aim as a bowler.”
Jack Leaning, the 23-year-old batsman, was awarded ‘Fielder of the Year’ at Yorkshire’s gala dinner, attended by 400 guests and dignitaries.
Leaning probably deserved it simply for one of the most amazing catches of this or any other year, a stunning one-handed take in Yorkshire’s T20 Blast win against Lancashire at Headingley when he caught Arron Lilley on the cover boundary.
The Howard Clayton Second Team Performance of the Year went to off-spinner Jack Shutt, whose 4-19 in the one-day trophy final against Middlesex helped Yorkshire win the trophy for the first time since 2009.
Shutt also claimed 4-12 to dismiss Derbyshire for 136 in pursuit of 159 in the second XI T20 competition at Alvaston & Boulton CC.
James Logan, a left-arm spinner who plays club cricket for Farsley, won Academy Player of the Year. The 19-year-old excelled in the second XI and has impressed all with his consistent performances.