YORK new boy Ben Coad is hoping his forthcoming spell at the Darren Lehmann Academy in Adelaide can boost his chances of more first-team cricket with Yorkshire this year.
The 20-year-old fast bowler, who has joined the reigning Solly Sports Yorkshire ECB County Premier League champions from Yorkshire Academy for 2014, heads down under this weekend with fellow White Rose quick Moin Ashraf as a travelling companion.
Coad debuted for Yorkshire in limited overs cricket last summer, benefiting from the policy to blood youth. His six-week spell at arguably the world’s most recognised academy will see him work on fitness and skills as well as playing grade cricket at weekends.
While Ashraf is playing for East Torrens, Coad is expecting help from Adelaide native Jason Gillespie when it comes to finding a club.
Coad is travelling to Australia having been awarded the Kevin Armitage Scholarship at the end of last season.
The scholarship, the first of its kind, was set up by the Yorkshire Pride Lottery. It is sponsored by Marjorie Armitage, who has funded Coad’s trip in memory of her husband Kevin – a lifelong Yorkshire supporter and local league cricketer who passed away in October 2012.
“I have never been to Australia, so that will be a new experience to encounter,” said Harrogate-born Coad.
“It is a great privilege to be heading out to the Darren Lehmann Academy. I’ve been told that it is one of the best development centres in Australia for learning the game.
“At this stage of my career, I’m looking to improve and gain as much knowledge as possible. I’m only just starting out having earned a junior pro contract, and opportunities like this very rarely come around.
“Last season I never expected to break into the first team. I was told it would be a year of just learning the game, playing the odd second-team game and with the academy.
“I was ahead of where I should have been, and to play in the first team was great experience.
“It was nerve-wracking at the time, especially when you come running into bowl against some top-class batters. I learned very quickly that there is no room for error. Anything short or full, the batsmen pounced on it straight away.
“It is cruel, but you gain so much from being involved. It is not just about being on the field, you sit in the pavilion hanging onto every word from the senior players, and that is just as important for my development. My biggest challenge for this year is to work on my strength. I’m still growing, and I need to get stronger, which will help me bowl quicker.
“I expect to play most of my cricket in the second team, and I have also joined York. They are a good team. If I get the opportunity to play in the first team for Yorkshire, I’ll grab it. You never know where that can lead.”
Yorkshire first-team coach Gillespie is expecting big things from the youngster.
He added: “His cricket is really coming on, and he has a bright future in the game.
“He has worked hard in pre-season so far, but it has been indoors. You can only do so much in the indoor school here. Getting out in the dirt will be beneficial in a competitive environment.”