Chris Wa­ters

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - SPORT - ■ Email: chris.wa­ters@ypn.co.uk ■ Twit­ter: @CWater­sYPS­port

YORK­SHIRE bowl­ing coach Richard Pyrah tweeted his dis­ap­point­ment for Ben Coad af­ter the squad for the Eng­land Lions tour to the UAE was an­nounced re­cently.

“Gut­ted for @BenCoad10 an­other out­stand­ing year and has missed out on the Eng­land Lions squad. Over 100 wick­ets at 19 #ge­nius #YourYork­shire,” was the mes­sage.

The York­shire pace bowler did not make the 15-man squad for the four-day ‘Test’ against Pak­istan A, or in­deed the 15-man party that will con­test five ODIs and two T20s against the same op­po­nents.

In­stead, bats­man Tom KohlerCad­more is York­shire’s sole rep­re­sen­ta­tive with the Eng­land se­cond string, the former Worces­ter­shire man se­lected in both squads for the games that run from Novem­ber 18 to De­cem­ber 8.

Whether Coad should or should not have made the tour is a mat­ter of opin­ion.

The squads in­clude some im­pres­sive pace bowlers – Mark Wood, Jamie Porter, the Over­ton twins, and so on.

But Coad’s record cer­tainly speaks for it­self – 98 County Cham­pi­onship wick­ets in 21 ap­pear­ances in the last two sea­sons at an aver­age of 18.64, in­clud­ing 48 this sum­mer at 16.33 af­ter he backed up strongly his break­through year.

This is a man who is go­ing places – if not, in this par­tic­u­lar in­stance, to the UAE.

The broader points, how­ever, are firstly that the likes of Coad, Kohler-Cad­more and also Matty Fisher, the York­shire pace bowler, are firmly in the se­lec­tors’ thoughts.

Fisher might have been in con­tention him­self but for a back in­jury, and York­shire are sup­ply­ing plenty of tal­ent to the Lions, just as they sup­ply it to the full Eng­land sides.

Of course, this rarely causes a prob­lem dur­ing the off-sea­son – un­less Lions’ tours clash with the meat of pre-sea­son, when York­shire like to have the bulk of their squad to­gether for prepa­ra­tion and prac­tice, it is clearly ben­e­fi­cial for their play­ers to gain valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence of dif­fer­ent con­di­tions.

Dur­ing the sum­mer, how­ever, pri­or­i­ties change, and one doubts whether Pyrah, for ex­am­ple, would have been tweet­ing his dis­plea­sure had Coad been by­passed for Eng­land Lions’ games that clashed with Cham­pi­onship fix­tures, which brings us, per­haps, to the most im­por­tant point.

For that is in­tended as no crit­i­cism what­so­ever of Pyrah, but rather of the sys­tem, whereby it is good for coun­ties to have their play­ers calledup dur­ing the win­ter, but not nec­es­sar­ily so in the sum­mer months.

Re­cip­ro­cal tour ar­range­ments are in place at Lions’ level, of course, just as they are at full in­ter­na­tional level; in­deed, it would be un­re­al­is­tic for Eng­land to ex­pect only to travel away from home and for their op­po­nents not to visit these shores.

But there is clearly a dis­cus­sion to be had about Lions’ games dur­ing the English sea­son, and, specif­i­cally, on what cri­te­ria are used to se­lect those squads.

As a rule the re­spec­tive par­ties try to ac­com­mo­date each other as best they can, mind­ful, as they are, of the re­spec­tive de­mands and pri­or­i­ties at play, but it is dif­fi­cult due to the sheer range of those de­mands and pri­or­i­ties and a sched­ule that is so jam­packed that the prover­bial tin of sar­dines seems roomy by com­par­i­son.

Mark Arthur, the York­shire chief ex­ec­u­tive, has some in­ter­est­ing thoughts on this sub­ject.

He feels that if coun­ties sup­ply a cer­tain num­ber of play­ers to the full Eng­land side they should not have to lose any more to the Lions at the same time, a com­mon­sense po­si­tion that would also en­sure that the in­tegrity of county cricket is not fur­ther com­pro­mised.

Last sea­son York­shire lost Kohler-Cad­more and Fisher for the Lions’ one-day tri-se­ries against In­dia A and the West Indies A.

It ruled them out of the Cham­pi­onship matches against Hamp­shire at the Ageas Bowl and against Sur­rey at Scar­bor­ough, and lifted to seven the num­ber of in­ter­na­tional play­ers that York­shire had away at that time with Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Liam Plun­kett, Adil Rashid and David Wil­ley also on duty for the five-match one-day se­ries against Aus­tralia.

“The crit­i­cal point for me, when it re­ally came home to me that it’s not a level play­ing field in this re­spect, was the Eng­land Lions’ sit­u­a­tion this sum­mer,” said Arthur.

“We al­ways ac­cept it at York­shire when play­ers get called up for the full Eng­land sides – great.

“But I do be­lieve that there should be a sys­tem whereby if you are sup­ply­ing, say, over three play­ers to the Eng­land set-up at any one time that you can’t take any more for the Lions.

“I think that if three or more are be­ing used by Eng­land at any one time then Eng­land shouldn’t be al­lowed to call up any more play­ers for Lions’ cricket when that county has got a com­pet­i­tive match.”

It should also be noted that clubs can lose play­ers to the var­i­ous Eng­land age-group squads, such as the Un­der-19s.

It has be­come, in many ways, a pin-in-the-hat-job as to which play­ers will or will not be avail­able.

Arthur’s call for what would ef­fec­tively be a Lions’ play­er­cap is a sen­si­ble one; sen­si­ble, at least, from the clubs’ per­spec­tive.

On the other hand, of course, young play­ers might ar­gue that they would be penalised if they were un­able to en­hance their ca­reers in this man­ner be­cause their clubs are al­ready sup­ply­ing a cer­tain num­ber of full Eng­land crick­eters, ef­fec­tively pe­nal­is­ing them due to their own club’s suc­cess.

In­deed, when­ever young play­ers are called up for Lions’ ac­tion they nat­u­rally talk of what a great hon­our it is, how flat­tered and de­lighted they are, and so on, per­ceiv­ing it as an­other step on the ca­reer lad­der.

It is an­other ex­am­ple of how com­pet­ing pri­or­i­ties are lit­er­ally every­where; ev­ery­one has their dif­fer­ent goals and am­bi­tions.

A per­sonal be­lief is that the best way for young play­ers to en­hance their ca­reers is to play as much Cham­pi­onship cricket as pos­si­ble.

Would Kohler-Cad­more and Fisher, for ex­am­ple, have got more out of play­ing a few one-day games against In­dia A and the West Indies A or by tak­ing on the even­tual cham­pi­ons Sur­rey at Scar­bor­ough?

Would Kohler-Cad­more have got more out of fac­ing Sur­rey’s Morne Morkel, for in­stance, and de­rived more from that ex­pe­ri­ence than by fac­ing bowlers of much lesser pedi­gree?

Ditto would Fisher have gained more from bowl­ing at the likes of Sur­rey’s Rory Burns than he would against bats­men of lesser cal­i­bre?

The an­swer, some would say, is fairly self-ev­i­dent, and Arthur’s sug­ges­tion is one that the pow­er­sthat-be would do well to heed.

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