Gary Ballance heaped praise on Harrogate CC pace bowler Ben Coad after he put Yorkshire on the brink of a first County Championship victory of the season against Warwickshire.
Ripon-born Coad, who lodged his maiden first-class five-wicket haul in defeat at home to Hampshire last week and followed up with another in the first innings in Birmingham, added a third with 5-27 – giving him 10-79 in the match.
It left the home side’s batting line-up in tatters, with Warwickshire, requiring 203 to avoid an innings defeat, eventually ending the third day on 85-9.
Coad fed voraciously on Warwickshire’s brittle confidence and, as if his match could not get any better, his victims included Warwickshire captain and former England batsman Ian Bell.
Following his first-innings haul, the 23-year-old admitted the Warwickshire wickets he coveted most were Bell and Jonathan Trott.
After dismissing the latter in the first innings, he removed Bell in the second with a brute of a ball, which lifted to take the glove on its way to slip.
At one stage, Warwickshire were 7-5 and by no means certain to reach 35, their lowest total against Yorkshire. They avoided that embarrassment but their collapse was alarming enough.
Afterwards, Yorkshire captain Ballance was quick to praise his team’s efforts, although he understandably singled out Coad, who has been a revelation for the White Rose after coming in to fill the gap left by injuries to the club’s leading pace bowlers, including Ryan Sidebottom, Liam Plunkett and Jack Brooks.
“This morning the guys batted very well to get us a lead of just over 200, which was perfect,” said Ballance.
“We put a lot of pressure on them. Then, the way the guys bowled, Dave and Coady set it up brilliantly. They bowled very well and took some early wickets.
“I’ve seen Ben bowl for the last two months, and I knew that he could bowl well and put in good performances. But, honestly, I can’t say I would have seen him doing this well.
“It’s brilliant bowling and he’s done it by getting top players out. It’s deserved. The hard work he’s put in is paying off now.
“He must be surprised. He’s got 18 wickets in four innings. I think anyone would be surprised. You don’t expect someone to come in for their second championship game and tear it up like he is.
“He’s done very well and, hopefully, he can carry on.”
Coad, who helped Harrogate CC win the inaugural Yorkshire Premier League North last season, admitted he was enjoying his promising start to the 2017 campaign.
“It’s coming out well for me,” he said.
“I’m just happy to be putting into practice all the work I did during the winter. It was good to get Jonathan Trott out. He was one of the ones, him and Bell, the two big names that I wanted.
“It’s easy to bowl alongside players like Tim Bresnan and Steve Patterson because they do their jobs day in and day out and if you need any help, they are there to help you out. It is great to have that.”