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Paul Nixon column – Coad’s success confirms value of Second XIs

It was another brilliant and fascinating weekend of County Championship action with Yorkshire bowler Ben Coad arguably the star of the week.

He took ten wickets in the match, with five-wicket hauls in each innings as the White Rose bounced back from their surprise defeat to Hampshire by easing to victory over Warwickshire, and Coad is one that really excites me.

Yorkshire have had their hand forced somewhat in the sense that they have a number of players who can’t play because of ECB restrictions and there are a few injuries in the Headingley camp, but Coad has taken his opportunity.

He got big wickets, too. Jonathan Trott in the first innings, Ian Bell in the second. He’s not one that just comes in and cleans up the tail; he takes wickets when it matters.

He has played a lot of 2nd XI cricket and that has helped him massively. It obviously helps your match fitness and gets some consistency in your game. You play on many different surfaces and it gives you time to work out your game plan and gain valuable experience that puts you in good stead to go into the first team. The key is not changing what you do and knowing what works for you.

It’s vital at this time of the year with the One-Day Cup coming up and a number of players will head into the 2nd XI to keep their red-ball skills up if not picked for the 50-over competition.

There will be some experienced professionals that are in county 2nd XI sides and there are two ways you can go about things. You can either be cheesed off that you’re not in the first team, or you can go and prove people wrong.

Counties like Yorkshire will help the players. Cricket is still active in schools and there are some very good coaches, but there are other counties who don’t have the same production line.

Some clubs are paying mediocre players a bit too much when the money can be spent on improving the pathway through the team. When lads are friends on and off the pitch from a young age and are always playing together, that’s when they provide the nucleus of the team in years to come and make a really strong consistent side.

Yorkshire beat Warwickshire, who have come up against two bowlers in inspired form in Mark Footitt for Surrey last week and Coad this weekend.

Coad looks a big strong lad with a decent action and he gets his wickets by putting the ball in decent areas. Bowlers have times where they beat the bat and can’t get a wicket, no matter what they do. Then they have other times where they just put it in an area and it comes off for you.

But it’s the consistency of being able to put it on the same spot ball after ball which pays off, and Coad would have learnt that in all the 2nd XI matches he has played. You have to say fair play to the Yorkshire coaches for helping him on his journey.

Steve Oldham, who is no longer at Yorkshire, was there for many years as bowling coach and he gave the club amazing service and brought a lot of lads through. It’s great to see that the club have continued that with Richie Pyrah the man bringing the bowlers through now.

Yorkshire have rewarded Coad this week with a contract extension and that, combined with his star performances, will have him full of confidence. It makes the niggles hurt a little bit less when you’re full of wickets and confident.

He got his wickets this time against a Warwickshire side who have struggled early on. It’s very tough for Jim Troughton to go straight from the dressing room to being coach. I’m a big advocater of learning your trade. Look at Martin Johnson, the rugby legend, he went from being a brilliant captain to a not-so successful coach.

Must have a word on Hampshire again. They had the toughest start on paper by going up to Yorkshire and then hosting current champions Middlesex. To come out of that with a win and a draw is huge.

Their pace trio of Fidel Edwards, Brad Wheal and Kyle Abbott are doing the business and they’ve always had plenty of runs in them. It was brilliant to see Michael Carberry make a score, too. Hampshire will need to be careful to keep going. Lancashire had a brilliant start last year, but it still went down to the wire as to whether they stayed up. It’s about momentum, though, and there have already been so many times this year where teams have been 70-7 and still made 200 or 250.

Hampshire have got the bowling skill to capitalise on it, but you need to be careful. The right decisions still need to be made. It’s like when a bowler has four wickets and you keep bowling them to try to get their five when actually they need to come off.

There’s still a long way to go this season, though, but it’s definitely been an exciting and intriguing start.

This piece originally featured in The Cricket Paper, April 21 2017

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