Feature: Yorkshire cricket ace Ben Coad looks ahead to summer of success

Yorkshire Cricket Club's Ben Coad
Yorkshire Cricket Club's Ben Coad

Yorkshire has a rich history of producing swing bowlers.

Aided by the handy Headingley wind, White Rose bowlers have always had a crafty knack to move the traditional Duke ball sideways.

Yorkshire Acadamy v Sheffield United ECB Yorkshire League sat 27th april 2013'Ben Coad bowling for the Acadamy

Yorkshire Acadamy v Sheffield United ECB Yorkshire League sat 27th april 2013'Ben Coad bowling for the Acadamy

In the last 15 years alone, Matthew Hoggard, Ryan Sidebottom, Ajmal Shahzad and Tim Bresnan all progressed into the national ranks from the Leeds base, while stars Liam Plunkett and Jack Brooks joined last year to utilise their skills.

Studley Royal junior Ben Coad is the latest seamer to be carving a career from lateral movement.

Modelling his technique on fellow county bowler Steve Patterson, Coad has progressed through Yorkshire’s academy ranks and earned a junior professional contract in early December.

And, having made his Yorkshire bow last summer in the one day game, the Ripon youngster has set his sights on turning his arm over in a successful County Championship campaign over the next six months.

“We can challenge to win everything this year. That’s certainly the message from the coaching staff,” he said.

“Jason Gillespie came in and told players to play without fear.

“Last year the main aim was to win the county championship in the 150th year. This year, we have a chance of winning every title.”

Australian power-hitter Aaron Finch’s arrival has increased Coad’s belief that 2014 will be Yorkshire’s year of triumph.

“He’s a special player,” Coad said.

“It will be great to bowl at him, he’s a great talent and you always want to test yourself against those type of players.”

The young seamer experienced the step up in class international players offer when he made six one day appearances for Yorkshire last summer, taking three wickets in the process. But a first four-day appearance remained allusive.

That, he said, would be his primary aim in the 2014 season.

But with three England internationals of past and present amongst one of the country’s most fearsome bowling attacks, he knows the breakthrough will be hard to come by.

“There’s a lot of depth but it’s good competition fighting for places,” Coad added.

“We’re all trying to push them out of the spots at the top. If we are trying to do that, it forces them to get wickets and it’s good for the team.

“But they all help me too. I model myself mainly on Steve Patterson and he teaches me a lot.

“Sidebottom, given how experienced he is, he’s always helping out if I need it.

“I have to work hard on my bowling and get a bit quicker. I would like to touch 80mph.

“That, with the swing and seam, should be about right.

“Hopefully I will naturally fill out but I’m working hard in the gym, it’s just not coming.

“Last year I started the season by trying to bowl quicker but it just wasn’t working and I bowled everywhere.

“One of the coaches said, just do what you do, it will naturally come in the next two years.”

Coad almost got his first class chance last season. Had it not been for the English weather, he would have got off the duck when he first made the 12-man travelling party at Somerset last year.

But he didn’t have to wait long before he pulled off his county sweater to reach his mark, recording one wicket for 42 against Gloucestershire in the Yorkshire Bank 40 match at Headingley in June.

He reflected: “There were a few days of nervous build up but once I got out there it was great experience. But it was very nerve-wracking.

“I was just delighted to make my debut and get my first wicket too.”

The 20-year-old’s progress into the Yorkshire set-up has surprised no one greater than the young man sending down the swerving darts.

“I never thought I would get this far,” Coad added.

“Yorkshire pride themselves on the academy. It’s a great set-up and the coaches have helped me out no end.

“They let you play how you play and let you enjoy it without too much pressure.

“I’ve just taken my chances when they have come.”

Since signing professional terms at Yorkshire, Coad has had to say goodbye, temporarily, to Studley Royal CC, the club he represented through his junior years, as he has joined York CC for this coming summer.

And the youngster has spent the last few weeks hoping to impress on Yorkshire’s pre-season tour to Sri Lanka.

Prior to that he spent a six-week intensive training scholarship at Darren Lehmann’s Academy in Adelaide, Australia last month.

He became the first recipient of the Kevin C Armitage scholarship, set up by Kevin’s widow Marjorie to help improve a young Yorkshire talent’s game.

One junior-professional will fly out to Australia each year to hone their skills under the guidance of Australian coaching.

Coad said: “I had never been to Australia. I turned up and had to bowl in 42 degrees heat. I got through 12 overs, just, but I nearly passed out a couple of times.

“It was a quality experience, I learnt a lot and hopefully it will have done me good for the season ahead.”