Dan Richardson: This feels like a fresh start for Staffordshire

Staffordshire County Cricket Club all-rounder Dan Richardson.

Dan Richardson admits Staffordshire are heading into the National Counties Cricket Association campaign with a new wave of optimism.

Staffs embarked on a winter of change ahead of the 2023 season. James Kettleborough was installed as the new captain, while Andy Carr was appointed as head coach.

And there were new faces introduced into the squad with former Lancashire seamer Liam Hurt linking up with the county and left-arm spinner Tom Brett following Kettleborough on the journey from Bedfordshire.

An in-depth winter training programme has also been successfully negotiated to leave Staffordshire feeling chipper about their prospects this summer.

‘A new start’

Moddershall & Oulton all-rounder Richardson, who has been around the squad for close to a decade, senses the dawn of a new era.

“It’s been a really good winter and we’ve had a great structure to the sessions,” said the 28-year-old. “We have had extra coaching with Chris Milward involved and we’ve been getting good information.

“With Andy coming on board, a lot of the talk has been about roles and responsibilities and how we are going to attack each competition. It’s been really helpful, really beneficial.

Liam Hurt relishing the chance to shine with Staffordshire

“It feels fresh, it feels new. When a new coach comes in they have a different way of approaching things. Players also up their games, they want to impress, and understand how they are going to fit into the side.

“What I’ve felt this year is that the squad is more of a unit, there’s more togetherness and team building, which is great.

“Communication has helped. I’ve played against Andy and known him for years and how he’s coached the NSSCL side. He’s an approachable character.

“He talks about your role and it makes you feel better about your game having that clarity. It gives you confidence.”

‘White-ball aim’

Richardson has made 20 Championship appearances for Staffordshire since making his bow in the 2016 season. He was part of the side which won the Eastern Division title in 2019.

He’s looking to cement his place in the white-ball format as well, but the right-handed batsman and bustling seamer says there’s plenty of competition for places.

“It’s about having an understanding of what is expected and being adaptable, especially in Twenty20 cricket,” added Richardson. “You might only bowl two overs because the pitch suits a different type of bowler. You have to have an understanding of the captain’s thoughts.

“I’ve worked with Chris Milward during the winter on different variations and how to bowl on different pitches and to different batters.

Dan Richardson in action in last year's Showcase game against Leicestershire.
Dan Richardson in action in last year’s Showcase game against Leicestershire.

“For me, it’s trying to be more consistent. The white-ball side looks really strong when you have the likes of Liam Banks, Nils Priestley and James Kettleborough coming in.

“On the bowling side there’s Liam Hurt to help the younger lads in the squad as well.

“Scott Winnington has come in fresh and there’s young lads like Sam Atkinson, who has just been taken on by the Warwickshire Academy. The side has a really good feel to it.

“I’m 28 not, but in my head I’m still 17! Age-wise I can pass on information to the lads because I’ve played a few games now.

“Even if I’m not in the starting XI I can still chat to the lads about bowling at someone I’ve bowled to before or field placings.”

‘Second time lucky’

Staffordshire had a false start to their NCCA T20 Group One campaign last weekend. Their double header against Cumbria at Checkley was abandoned because of the weather.

That was frustrating for Staffs, who were eager to launch the Carr era in style on home turf.

Instead they make the long trip to Northumberland this weekend for the second instalment of the short format aiming to impress at South Northumberland Cricket Club (11am & 2.30pm).

Richardson says Staffs are aware of the threat posed by Northumberland.  But he insists Staffs should be confident that they can make an impact in T20s.

And the big target is to reach finals day… something Staffordshire have never managed to achieve.

‘County target’

“The winter has been good and we had a great session at Caverswall the day before we played the friendlies against the NSSCL XI,”  Richardson told The Sentinel.

“It’s just been a bit stop-start because of the weather, which has not been ideal.

“Northumberland are very strong at home and they’ve got some dangerous players.

New head coach Carr looking to drive Staffordshire forward

“It’s about being consistent over the two games, not just one. Hopefully with the winter we’ve had and the warm-up matches we can put the games together.

“If you look over the years we’ve never really cracked T20 cricket. The intensity is there and if you win the first game you can drop off in the second.

“On the flip side, if you’ve lost the first game you put a bit more into the second because you don’t want to have two defeats on the trot.

“Our aim is to win the group and get through to finals day. The talk has been about winning at least one trophy this year. With the ability in the squad, we’ve just got to transfer it out on to the pitch.”

‘Squad changes’

Staffordshire have tweaked their squad for this weekend’s trip to Northumberland.

All-rounder Liam Banks and spinner Brett are unavailable and drop out of the 13 on duty last Sunday.

Westhoughton batsman Matthew Morris is added to the travelling party.

Northumberland also had a frustrating time last weekend as their two games against Cheshire fell victim to the weather.

Staffordshire (from): James Kettleborough (cpt, Checkley), Sam Atkinson (Moddershall & Oulton), Spencer Byatt (Nantwich), Dan Gibbs (Newcastle & Hartshill), Michael Hill (Meakins), Liam Hurt (Flixton), Matthew Morris (Westhoughton), Nils Priestley (Swarkestone), Jack Redman (Audley), Dan Richardson (Moddershall & Oulton), Peter Wilshaw (Meakins), Tom Moulton (Checkley).

Dan Richardson is being kindly sponsored by Richardson Transport and Base Body Clinic for the 2023 NCCA season

Image: Dan Richardson in winter training with Staffordshire County Cricket Club. Picture: Alfie Shenton

Read more