Andy Carr proud of Staffordshire players’ efforts

Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr

Head coach Andy Carr insists Staffordshire’s players should walk tall after they continued the defence of their NCCA Twenty20 Cup title.

Staffs booked their place at finals day for the second successive season after comprehensively beating Hertfordshire and Norfolk at Manor Park in Sunday’s Super 12s stage.

Staffs were given a lifeline in the competition after being reinstated following Northumberland’s removal for breaking player rules.

And they made the most of their second chance as they rattled up 181-5 against Hertfordshire before bowling out their rivals for 83.

They then dismissed Norfolk for just 82 before completing a six-wicket victory with ease.

That leaves them heading to Chester Boughton Hall on Sunday – along with Berkshire, Cumbria and Oxfordshire – as they attempt to keep their hands on the trophy they won at Tring Park last year.

The draw, made yesterday, has pitted Staffs against Berkshire in the semi-finals. That follows the Cumbria v Oxfordshire match.

“I’m unbelievably proud of the lads,” said Carr. “After playing a full day’s cricket on Saturday to travel three-and-a-half hours – or more in some cases – to Norfolk to then play back-to-back games was always going to be a tough one.

“The weather was also hot, which was testing, but they produced two tremendous performances.

Super Staffordshire power their way to NCCA Twenty20 Cup finals day

“They should be really proud of themselves, just like I am as their coach.

“On Sunday morning we spoke at the team hotel about the shortfalls we had in losing the second game to Northumberland in the group.

“The really positive thing is that we’re speaking heavily about our plans and then they’re coming to fruition and we’re executing them.”

‘Showing their class’

Staffordshire had seen Norfolk defeat Hertfordshire in the day’s opening match at a sun-drenched Manor Park.

They then had their chance to shine and piled up a mammoth total thanks to Nils Priestley’s 66 and Zen Malik’s 49.

A rapid spell from Liam Hurt then reduced Herts to 7-3 in their reply.

That all-but sealed the outcome as Hertfordshire never recovered.

“Having watched the first game we thought 140 might have been par on a tricky wicket,” added Carr.

Staffordshire County Cricket Club's Liam Hurt
Seamer Liam Hurt bowled with pace as Staffordshire beat Hertfordshire and Norfolk in the NCCA Twenty20 Cup Super 12s. Picture: Pete Stonier

“But when you have two batsmen like Nils and Zen who are high on confidence, you get the start we had.

“To be on more than 100 in 10 overs really set us up for our total. Being picky, we might have lost our way in the middle a bit. Against better sides we would have needed to have kept our momentum up.

“I credit Nils and Zen, but Hurty bowled two of the quickest overs I’ve seen from him. In both games he put batsmen on the back foot.

“You watch from the sidelines and see how far Callum (Hawkins, wicketkeeper) is stood back. He was still taking the ball on the up.”
Staffs then took on Norfolk and produced another clinical performance.

‘Talking points’

Carr says that a team chat before they faced the East Anglians helped to shape that contest.

“We sat down after the first match. As convincing as it was, we knew it was only half of the job done,” he explained.

“We talked about the feeling we had at Tring Park at finals day last year. We didn’t want to have travelled for three-and-a-half hours to waste our good work.

‘Staffordshire produced the perfect Trophy performance’

“Ideally we wouldn’t have fielded first. But for an hour-and-a-quarter in the field we put everything on the line.

“The lads were faultless and I take my hat off to them.

“It was a low score we ended up chasing. But we just went out and played Twenty20 cricket as we want to.”

Image: Head coach Andy Carr was delighted with his players’ efforts as Staffordshire reached NCCA Twenty20 Cup finals day again. Picture: Pete Stonier