Andy Carr expands horizons with Birmingham Bears link up

Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr.

Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr has been rubbing shoulders with international stars this week.

The 49-year-old spent time helping with Birmingham Bears’ preparations for the T20 Blast fixture against Derbyshire. And he was in the dug-out on Wednesday for the match.

The opportunity arose as part of the link up between Staffordshire and Warwickshire.

Carr has been involved with a ‘workforce development programme’ all winter. That is in operation  to develop his coaching and enhance the game in all areas.

Carr successfully negotiated his way through an interview process to secure one of the eight places on the programme.

And that meant he had the opportunity to be able to join Bears’ head coach Mark Robinson’s backroom staff at Edgbaston on Tuesday for pre-match training before linking up with them for matchday.

“It was an unbelievable opportunity,” said Carr. “It’s quite similar to other coaching environments on where you can add value and what coaches can offer you in terms of support and advice.

“Paul Greetham (Warwickshire’s academy director) set up a session with Mark (Robinson) to discuss my development programme as a coach.

“It was a really good opportunity and Mark invited me to take it a bit further and come in to join first-team training and their matchday preparations to see what happened from that point of view.

“I joined in first-team training in the morning. And then the second team came in during the afternoon and I helped with that session too.”

That meant Carr was helping England internationals Moeen Ali and Chris Woakes and Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell fine-tune their skills for Wednesday’s match.

‘Great experience’

The Staffs coach says it was a beneficial exercise to see the professionals go about their business first hand.

“I did a lot of observing. I was side-arming and giving throw downs to players. It wasn’t radically different to the preparation we implement with Staffordshire,” explained Carr.

“That gave me more understanding about how the pros work. It’s not often you get to experience conversations with Moeen, Woakes and Maxwell on how they prepare for a game or be surrounded by that amount of talent.

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“One of the things I took away was how highly focused they are. The players know exactly what their roles are and nothing diverts them from that.

“I was speaking to Moeen before he went into the nets and asked if there was anything specific he wanted to work on.

“He said he didn’t, he just wanted to nail his basics. Some lads just wanted to strike balls, while others focused on range hitting – it was all about enhancing their strengths.”

‘Warm welcome’

Carr says Robinson, who has coached sides to County Championship titles as well as leading England Women, offered a warm welcome to his Staffordshire counterpart.

“They have so many coaches at Warwickshire to call on. The session was very much player-led and the coaches only intervene if the players mention something to look out for,” said Carr.

“We sat down at 9am and the players arrived at 9.30am. We sat in the players and coaches area and for the first half-hour it was heavily weighted towards the games they had just played in the T20s.

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“They looked at the areas they had fallen short in and discussed plans for the Derbyshire game. They look at individual roles and how the opposition are going to bat and ways to bowl at them.

“Mark welcomed me into the group and emphasised the link between the two counties is really important. This is the type of reason why it is there. The players were also great, made me feel welcome, and were interested in finding out how Staffordshire Cricket was developing.”

‘Good insight’

Carr says Robinson’s experience in the first-class game provided a fascinating insight into how to be successful.

And Carr says it was pleasing that the players took an interest in the county’s fortunes, especially Moeen, the brother of former Staffs captain Kadeer Ali.

“I picked up some ideas from speaking to Mark and asked him lots of coaching questions. He gave me ideas which we could probably implement moving forward.

“I admit that this was a little bit out of my comfort zone, but I was like a sponge because it’s not every day you get an opportunity like that.

“It involved a lot of listening skills to what they were explaining and delivering with it’s a very in-depth approach.

“The impression I got from Mark was that he has clear objectives and is willing to all offer his support. He was very accommodating and I’m sure if we invited him to a Staffordshire session to talk about a specific topic, he would be open to that if he was available.

“It was also great that Moeen took an interest in how Staffordshire were doing. From a PR point of view it’s great that we’re being recognised as a NCCA county. And it’s fantastic that Moeen was asking about the success we’ve had in the T20 Finals.”

Derbyshire went on to win Wednesday’s match by six wickets after chasing down Birmingham’s 203-7 with four balls to spare.

Main picture: Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr has spent time with Birmingham Bears this week. Image: Alfie Shenton