Head coach Ottis Gibson has urged Ben Coad to aim high this season as he looks to push Yorkshire towards LV= Insurance County Championship promotion. 

Yorkshire’s main goal this season is obvious – to try and ensure their stay in Division Two is just a brief one.

But, when asked about his personal goals, new ball seamer Coad said: “It’s something Gibbo wants me to focus a bit more on.

“I always say that I just want to focus on affecting as many games as possible rather than going after personal numbers. But Gibbo wants me to be a bit more greedy.

“He wants me to strive for something and reach it.”

Coad went on: “I genuinely back myself to take over 60 wickets this year. I believe it’s something I can do. I want to get two wickets an innings, so averaging four a game. If I play all through the season, that’s 60-odd wickets.”

The signs are certainly encouraging. Injury ravaged the first half of 2022 for the 29-year-old. But he is fit and looking strong. He looks to have filled out a bit up top.

“Maybe a little bit, yeah,” he smiled. “I’m a bit stronger – not a great deal, just a bit.”

Yesterday evening, at the end of day one against Leeds/Bradford MCC Universities at Headingley, he got the new ball talking and claimed 5-12 from five overs to wreak havoc amongst the students’ top order, leaving them at 17-5 in reply to Yorkshire’s first-innings 323-7 dec.

He finished with 5-17 from 10 overs before lunch on day two, with the visitors bowled out for 96. He then put his feet up and watched opener Fin Bean score 105 retired out as Yorkshire’s second innings progressed to 266-5 at close, a lead of 493.

“It’s been one of my strengths when I’ve been fit and in the team, that once I get one wicket I can back it up quickly,” Coad continued. 

“It’s just nice to do it right at the start of the season. Hopefully I can take it forwards now.

“I actually feel like I didn’t bowl my best in that spell, so it’s a massive boost for me. 

“It was tricky running in because the pitch is still a bit wet. But to be able to put it in the right areas and take wickets, it’s a great way to start the season. 

“I don’t go into the Championship stuff searching for wickets to get me going now because I’ve already got some under my belt.”

Everyone connected with Yorkshire will surely be delighted to see Coad ready and raring to go, not least assistant coach Ali Maiden.

“I was excited because I’ve been here 12 months and haven’t seen us having four or five slips, short-leg, leg slip. I’ve never seen that from us,” he said, referring to the attacking field late on day one.

“That’s possibly a show of intent and attitude in terms of the type of cricket we want to play. It was lovely, and Coady’s a quality operator.

“His record is as good as anybody’s in the country. We’re excited.

“He’s had a good winter and has worked really hard. He’s bowled all the way through since November without any problems. We’re really confident that, touch wood, he’s going into the season off the back of a winter which has seen him get a good bowling workload without any problems.

“He’s fit and strong, the lads downstairs in the gym have worked him hard. It’s fantastic to have him ready to go.”

On that winter work, Coad said: “The winter before wasn’t a great one for prep, but this winter’s been a full block and it’s been good.

“We talked about bowling from November. At first, I was a little bit unsure about it, but it made sense when I thought about it – to not have four months break and then have to build up quicker.

“This way, starting in November we could build up slowly and avoid any sudden spikes. That’s been key. It’s worked well.”

Coad is now the elder statesman of Yorkshire’s fast bowling stocks.

“We have really strong depth,” he assessed. “We’ve added a couple of lads – Milnesy is going to be a great addition and Mickey as well.

“But the young lads coming through are ready to go, so there’s pressure on us to perform because there’s a lot of lads who could come in and take our spots straightaway. That’s a really good place to be.”

And on the season opener against Leicestershire on Thursday, he added: “Playing at Headingley is exciting, especially in April. Hopefully the weather improves a bit, we get a full four days and can start strong.

“Everyone will want a fast start. We’re going to have to play good cricket. If the cricket we’ve played over the last few days is anything to go by, we’ll do alright this year.

“We’re going to have be on it from ball one, but all the signs are that we’re ready to go.”

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