THE start of the county season, finally, is nearly upon us, and Ben Coad for one “can’t wait”.

It seems a heck of a long time ago that the Yorkshire seamer posted a clip on social media of himself bowling to his brother, Dan, down the driveway at home in an impromptu game of lockdown cricket.

Back then, on March 18, the start of a domestic campaign this summer hung in the balance, arguably seeming unlikely.

Now, though, the 26-year-old is back in training at Emerald Headingley preparing for the start of the four-day Bob Willis Trophy on August 1 and then the Vitality Blast on August 27.

“It’s been great to finally get back to training over the last few weeks and get a ball in your hand again,” said the new ball quick.

“We’ve been back training five days a week. Two of those have been gym sessions at Headingley as that’s the only gym we can use. Then, the other three days have been netting.

“We are now training in small groups of eight, but we’re not all in the same net. It’s been something like one batter and three bowlers.

“I can’t wait to get the games going now.”

This week, the bowlers have been applying different hand sanitisers to the cricket balls.

“We started that this week because it’s something that might get brought into games,” he explained. “We’re not sure yet.

“So we’re trying different ones to see what effect they have.

“Personally, I don’t really like it because it makes the ball go softer quicker. But if it has to be done, it has to be done. It’s definitely better than not playing at all.”

Coad admits to obvious frustration that the majority of the summer has been wiped out by coronavirus, though he is determined to look on the bright side and take a long-term, more pragmatic, view.

“It’s been annoying after working hard all winter, but looking at the positives I think it will be good for the body longer term,” he said.

“Having had a quieter year now, I think it will add a couple of years on to my career later on.

“Don’t get me wrong, I’m frustrated at not getting the chance to play, win games and put my name out there for England. But it should keep me fresher in the future.”

For a bowler who has taken 136 wickets in 33 County Championship matches since debuting in mid-2016, it has been a surprise that he hasn’t gained some sort of England recognition.

“I’d have liked to think I would have got into that squad of 55 they picked to start training earlier,” he said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t the case.

“But the aim is to keep performing and get a chance with England or the Lions

“But the only way I’m going to get into things like that is through performances, and I’ve not had that opportunity. What will be will be.

“Hopefully I can perform in this little block coming up and in the years to come.”

Prior to the start of the season proper, Yorkshire have a pair of two-day home friendlies against Lancashire and Durham (July 24/25 and July 27/28 respectively).

Then, their first aim is to ensure qualification for the five-day final of the Bob Willis Trophy at Lord’s in late September.

Coad is confident he and his team-mates can do exactly that, before turning their attentions to the Vitality Blast.

“It might be quite cold and dark into early October! Seriously, though, it’s always good to play at Lord’s,” he added.

“To win that Bob Willis Trophy, it would be a great honour. We’d all be very proud.

“The last couple of years have been tough. There’s been a transitional period which we’ve spoken a lot about. But we do like to think we’re on the other side of that now with a really good squad.

“I was very excited at the start of the year to see what this bunch of lads could do and hopeful for some silverware.

“This is the time now where we need to be performing, and I’d like to think we can start it this year with something before next year, when the full County Championship is back alongside the other competitions.”