BEN COAD for England?
You would not bet against it at some stage after the Yorkshire pace bowler continued his stunning form.
Coad took 6-81 to follow his first innings 4-49 to help Yorkshire to a 164-run win against Nottinghamshire, in the process enhancing his growing reputation.
Coad, 24, was the club’s leading wicket-taker in the County Championship last year, with 50 at 20.86, and he has started this season in similar vein.
After achieving his fifth five-wicket haul on only his 16th first-class appearance, and his second 10-wicket match haul too, Coad played the sort of straight bat to questions surrounding his England ambitions that the Notts batsmen palpably failed to play against him, emphasising, too, a level-headed outlook.
“I’m just concentrating on Yorkshire and making sure I’m the best I can be here,” said Coad, who captured the last two wickets as Notts folded 45 minutes into day four, having resumed on 181-8 in their second innings, chasing a notional 403.
“If that (England) did eventually come, great, but that sort of thing is out of my hands.
“It’s definitely an ambition; if you’re not looking to play for England I don’t think you should really be playing cricket.
“I think that’s the main aim for every cricketer, and it’s always got to be the ambition.”
Yorkshire captain Gary Ballance and first-team coach Andrew Gale are of one mind that Coad has what it takes to further his career.
After presiding over a win that evoked Yorkshire’s commanding displays in their back-to-back title years of 2014-15, with plenty of resilience shown under pressure, Ballance addressed the question as to whether Coad could one day represent his country.
“Why not?” he said. “He’s a wicket-taker, and even when he’s not taking wickets he’s not going for many runs.
“There’s no reason why he can’t further his career in that way, and no reason why it can’t happen quickly.
“He’s played a year and a bit now and he keeps taking wickets, and he’s the kind of lad who keeps wanting to improve.”
There might be question marks over his pace in international cricket, but his consistency and his skills are as good as anyone in the country.Andrew Gale on bowler Ben Coad
Gale agreed, insisting that Coad has the right attitude as well as the ability.
“He just goes about his business, he’s very level-headed, he works hard, he’s very particular in his preparation, and who knows where that can take him?” he said.
“He’s just enjoying the journey at the moment and is bowling with lots of confidence.
“There might be question marks over his pace in international cricket, but his consistency and his skills are as good as anyone in the country.
“He’s picked up from where he left off last season, and considering that he hadn’t had the most fluid pre-season, having been injured out in South Africa (on the pre-season tour), to bowl like he did in this match was superb.”
Tom Moores and Jake Ball, Notts’ ninth-wicket pair, added 57 inside 13 overs yesterday morning before Coad took the last two wickets in the space of three balls.
Both Moores and Ball played some fine shots, particularly driving through the off-side, as they extended their overnight stand to 66.
But it was only of mild irritation to the Yorkshire bowlers, with Coad bowling Ball from the Kirkstall Lane end before wrapping things up by having Harry Gurney caught at second slip by Adam Lyth, with Yorkshire’s catching excellent throughout the match.
Moores finished unbeaten on 40 from 69 balls with eight fours, a plucky effort under the circumstances.
“It was a very good win,” said Ballance. “We played some very good cricket over the four days and thoroughly deserved to get the victory.”
Commenting on his own contribution, which included the highest score of the match with 82 in the second innings, Ballance added: “I should have got a hundred, but it’s good to spend some time in the middle. Next time I need to take that chance to go on and get a big score.
“I played a poor shot in the first innings, but felt good overall.
“I’ve just got to keep working hard.”
For Gale, it was a performance that spoke volumes for his players’ character after Yorkshire’s opening match of the season had been washed out and their squad stretched due to injuries/unavailability.
“The attitude of the players over the last few weeks has been outstanding, given that we’ve had a lot thrown at us – IPL call-ups, last-minute injuries, and not being able to get outside due to the weather,” he said.
“So to perform like we did was testament to the players and they got their rewards for all their hard work.
“Some periods in the game we weren’t at our best, but we always seemed to find people to stand up at crucial periods.
“People kept putting their hand up and I thought we were really ruthless at times.”