Coad success allows Bresnan to build on batting credentials
Tim Bresnan has more reasons than most of his team-mates to be grateful for the startling emergence of Ben Coad in Yorkshire's fast-bowling ranks - because Coad's success has allowed him to concentrate on his burgeoning role as one of the club's senior batsmen.
Coad, 23, had played just one County Championship fixture prior to the start of the 2017 campaign, but already he has picked up 18 wickets in two matches this season - including 6 for 37 in a hard-fought defeat against Hampshire, followed by a match haul of 10 for 102 that helped to crush Warwickshire by an innings and 88 runs a few days ago.
And for Bresnan, who bowled a grand total of 9.1 overs across two innings at Edgbaston, that meant a welcome chance to settle into his "armchair", as he put it, at first slip and take pleasure in the success of a player who - alongside Matt Fisher, the highly rated England Under-19 quick - could prove to be a pillar of Yorkshire's fast-bowling ranks for years to come.
"He's been in the twos for the last two or three years," Bresnan told ESPNcricinfo during the launch of the Royal London One-day Cup at Lord's. "He's always been there or thereabouts, but he's gone away this winter and worked on his skills, and you can see he's improved so much.
"I think that's the thing that Andrew Gale and Rich Pyrah have brought in in the coaching staff. They've given the young guys a lot of direction and a lot of clarity on roles, how they see them and how they need to improve. And he's gone away and implemented everything."
And Bresnan himself seems pretty clear about where his current priorities lie. At the age of 32, his England days are almost certainly behind him - three elbow operations, the most recent of which took place in October, have shaved off those extra yards of pace that made him a world-class asset during his zenith in the 2010-11 Ashes. But, on the flip side, his promotion in recent seasons to Yorkshire's top six has given his career a whole new purpose.
"I've always been able to bat," Bresnan said, and with good reason. Despite rarely featuring above No. 8 in his England days, he averaged a healthy 26.13 in 23 Tests, with three fifties including a vital 90 against India at Trent Bridge in 2011.
"The main difference between now and then is opportunity. I got an opportunity to bat further up, at No. 6 and 5 last year. That's where I should always have been batting [for Yorkshire], but it's obviously difficult as a frontline seamer to do that. You come off having bowled 25-30 overs in the first innings, and if you lose a few quick ones you've already got your pads on. That's not where you want to be.
"But now that my bowling's been scaled back, and we've got young guns coming through, it's a lot easier for me to put the flats on and stand in the armchair at first slip, watching the young kids go, and bowl the overs my body allows me to do and the captain wants of me.
"I'm finding that role a lot more enjoyable. Bowling nine overs in a County Championship game last week was absolutely perfect, I'm not going to lie! Mainly because Ben Coad got six-for and five-for, so if that keeps happening, that's all good."
Despite launching the 2017 season with a pair against Hampshire, Bresnan resumed normal batting service with a solid 61 in Yorkshire's only innings at Edgbaston. But if there was one innings that truly dispelled any doubts about his ability as a top-order stalwart, it came at Lord's last September, at the climax of a thrilling Championship race.
With Yorkshire and Middlesex locked in a winner-takes-all showdown, and with Somerset keeping their own hopes alive with a comfortable victory over Nottinghamshire, word came through to Bresnan on the second afternoon that his team needed to reach 350 and a fourth of batting point to have any chance to staying in the race.
His response was a brilliantly serene 142 not out that eased them past that first objective with the No. 11 Ryan Sidebottom for company. And though Yorkshire came up short on the final day, he top-scored with 55 in their failed run-chase too.
"I'm pretty comfortable with my cricket at the minute," he said. "I just try and do what the team need me to do, and on that occasion someone had to step up. I was the one in and going okay when we were told 'this is what we need, boys'. I just thought, right, I'll set my stall out to get there.
"Three-fifty is what we needed to be able to win the Championship and, if we didn't get that, we couldn't win it, so it was an easy equation. And if you give me an easy equation, they're a lot easier than the hard ones!"
Despite that disappointment of missing out on a hat-trick of titles, not to mention the departure at the end of the season of their inspirational head coach, Jason Gillespie, Bresnan is in no doubt that Yorkshire are ready to pick themselves up and go again this season.
"The disappointment from last year is only going to drive us forward to do a little bit better this year, and hopefully win it," he said. "We got the continuity from Galey being captain and moving straight into the coaching staff. That was seamless. You don't notice the fact that Dizzy isn't there, even though he was so good for us, because Galey and him worked so closely together, and a lot of what he was doing while captain that was kind of a coaching role already."
In fact, Gale (who, coincidentally, is also Bresnan's brother-in-law) may have played a small part in bringing out the best in Bresnan's batting back in 2015, when he suggested that he had the technique and drive to keep playing into his 40s, if he applied himself to what was then still his second string.
"That'd be the dream I reckon," Bresnan agreed. "Bat five, bowl a few overs of offspin … I look at players who do that with a lot of envy, it seems like a bit of a gravy train. But nah, I'm still only 32, I've still got a lot of overs left to bowl with seam, so I'll do whatever job the team requires, whether that's bat five or six and take the new ball, or come on as fourth seamer. I'll do whatever, really."
Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket