On the eve of the 2018 season, Liam Plunkett and David Willey were both India-bound, favouring the lucrative IPL over their duties in the Championship.
Yorkshire’s pace line-up was further depleted with injuries. If they needed someone like Ben Coad to step up to the plate, it was now.
Such was his impact, with ten wickets in this match, that Yorkshire found themselves taking the extra half-hour to force an unexpected three-day win yesterday. They failed, but Nottinghamshire were still bundled out this morning after an hour’s play.
Yorkshire desperately required the 24-year old to replicate his performance from last year, where he shot to prominence bagging 50 wickets at 21 apiece in his first full season with the county.
He did just that on day three, beginning by rapping the Notts skipper Steven Mullaney on the pads and winning an lbw verdict. The next two were bowled, the first one doing just enough to dislodge Jake Libby’s bails, while the second one nipped back perfectly to smash into Samit Patel’s off stump. Coad was the only one to make use of the extra half hour as Luke Wood’s edge carried comfortably to second slip. This morning, he got rid of Tom Moores as well as Harry Gurney in the same over to draw the game to its inevitable close.
A target of 403 was what Nottinghamshire were asked to chase after tea yesterday. Dauntingly, it would have been the fourth highest successful run chase against Yorkshire. But at stumps, and the scorecard reading 181 for 8, a Yorkshire win was very much on the cards.
Yorkshire’s position of dominance owed much to Gary Ballance’s 82 from 166 balls, enough to ensure a first-innings lead of 68 was not wasted. It feels like Groundhog Day as far as Ballance is concerned – he often has a dismal winter, comes back to Yorkshire, and then scores runs aplenty.
Ballance would have been pleased to be boarding a flight to Australia in November, but there was no place for him in the Test squad. In the two tour games where he did play, Ballance scored a half century as well as an unbeaten 45. Not to mention he was Yorkshire’s leading run-scorer last season, amassing 951 runs at an average of 68. This raises the question – is Gary Ballance too good a player to spend his time solely in county cricket?
The evidence in his favour would have been even more persuasive had he got to his century on the third morning. He displayed his trademark affinity for the crease early on day three, punching a Wood delivery through the covers off the back foot. But he added just six runs to his overnight score of 76, before he lost his middle stump to a Gurney delivery.
Tim Bresnan, who is increasingly being considered as a batsman who bowls rather than the other way around, contributed with an unbeaten 68. His bowling didn’t go unnoticed either as he got Chris Nash to edge one to the keeper.
After narrowly escaping relegation last year, this was very much the victorious start the White Roses needed in this season of the County Championship and travel to Taunton to play Somerset later this week.