Andy Carr: Staffordshire will take fresh approach in NCCA Knockout Trophy

Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr

Andy Carr says new plans have been put in place as Staffordshire try to crack the 50-over code.

Head coach Carr and skipper James Kettleborough took the reins for their first season last summer – and it was a largely successful campaign.

Staffordshire were crowned National Counties Cricket Association Twenty20 Cup champions for the first time and also played some excellent cricket in the three-day Championship matches.

That enabled them to finish as runners-up in Division One East.

However, the Knockout Trophy competition proved to be a disappointment.

The bad weather played a part, but in the action possible, Staffordshire failed to hit their levels, meaning they didn’t qualify from their group.

Carr and Kettleborough have spent the winter analysing the way forward in that particular white-ball format.

And Carr hopes to see the new train of thought come to fruition when Staffs start their Group Two 50-over season against Suffolk at Mildenhall on Sunday (11am).

“It’s difficult trying to differentiate between the T20 and 50-over competitions,” said Carr.

“We have spoken in depth with the squad about the two formats and how we go about our business.

Staffordshire back in NCCA Twenty20 Cup after rivals’ error

“Without giving away our approach we will be going about things in a different way this season.

“I’m hopeful that the players are perfectly clear as to why we missed out last summer.

“We fell short, but we want to see the lads be crystal clear about the plans going into this weekend’s game.”

‘Ups and downs’

Staffordshire secured the T20 Cup on a sunny May day at Tring Park.

The following weekend they started their 50-over commitments by shrugging off a disappointing batting performance to beat Wales.

A below-par display saw them lose to Wiltshire, while the rain put paid to their contest at Dorset.

And the elements then intervened again to send Staffs to a Duckworth/Lewis defeat by Buckinghamshire which eliminated them from the Trophy.

“We were still a bit giddy from winning the T20s heading into the 50-over games and we got mixed messages,” explained Carr.

Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr
Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr is eyeing up NCCA Knockout Trophy success. Picture: Pete Stonier

“It’s nice to have that bit of a break from T20 mode to 50 overs. It helps us to recharge and reset the button. We know what we want to do and we’ll speak about that before the game on Sunday.

“It’s imperative we don’t have mixed messages and we hope everything we’ve talked about works out.”

Carr is keeping his cards close to his chest when it comes to Staffordshire’s plans for the next instalment of the white-ball programme.

But such is the flexibility in the squad, there are a number of ways in which Staffs could approach matters.

‘Positive outlook’

And Carr is confident that the players can show the best version of themselves in this format.

“We definitely have the cavalry to produce in the Knockout Trophy,” insisted Carr.

“We underperformed last year, but if we can get things right and execute our skills, there’s no reason why we can’t have a successful time.

“What happened last year has made us more determined for this summer. We’ve highlighted the reasons why last year happened and we want to give the competition a right good go.

Staffordshire take 12-man squad to Suffolk for NCCA Knockout Trophy clash

“We’re not looking too far ahead. We will take each game as it comes. We will focus on the game against Suffolk and I’m sure there will be a lot of positives on Sunday.

“If there are any negatives we will address them going into the next match.”

Norfolk, Herefordshire and Shropshire are the other teams competing in Staffordshire’s group. The top two will qualify for the quarter-finals.

In Sunday’s other match, Norfolk host Herefordshire at Sprowston.

Main image: Andy Carr says fresh Staffordshire plans are in place for their NCCA Knockout Trophy campaign. Picture: Pete Stonier