Dave Cartledge: Anis Raza’s return provides the ideal example

Staffordshire's director of cricket Dave Cartledge.

Dave Cartledge says Anis Raza’s return to the Staffordshire first team sends out a clear message to local players.

Raza has been named in Staffs’ team for the first NCCA Championship Division One East game of the season against Suffolk at Bury St Edmunds this weekend.

That marks the end of a five-year spell on the sidelines for the left-arm spinner, who featured for the county in the 2018 season.

However, the 24-year-old has been in a rich vein of form for NSSCL Division One side Ashcombe Park, as well as picking up a host of wickets for Staffordshire Development XI.

Director of cricket Cartledge said: “Anis coming back in shows that there is nothing to stop you being selected.

“He’s proved a point. He’s taken wickets for Ashcombe and also the development side and he looks like a proper bowler now.

“Sometimes you can come into a side and you need to do a stock take. That can happen.

“He’s found himself out of the team, but the way he has worked hard shows that it wasn’t the end.

“Anis has taken his chance big style and has produced some really good figures.”

‘Spin attack’

Raza is one of three left-arm spinners in Staffordshire’s side for this weekend’s first assignment.

He joins Tom Brett and Nils Priestley in that particular stable, while there is also the leg-spin option of top-order batsman Zen Malik.

“Can you play three left-arm spinners in the same side? Yes, because we’re doing it,” added Cartledge.

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“They are all different. I’d say Tom and Anis are frontline left-armers, while Nils has been a white-ball spinner, but still turns it.

“He was very good in the limited overs stuff and bowls every week for his club as well.

“They will all pose different problems. On top of that, we’ve also got a leggie in Zen.”

‘Time to shine’

Cartledge, who has been involved in a backroom capacity since 2013, insists Staffordshire are due a change of fortune against this weekend’s opponents.

They were edged out by one wicket on their visit to Suffolk in 2021, before losing to the East Anglians in the final match of the 2022 campaign.

Anis Raza is back in the Staffordshire NCCA side for the first time in five years.
Anis Raza is back in the Staffordshire NCCA side for the first time in five years.

“In the three-dayers we’ve done pretty well in the last two or three years, but let ourselves down at times,” he added.

“And both matches were against Suffolk, so we’re due to win one against them. It’s about time we won one.

“Suffolk have done well in the 50-over competition to reach the semi-finals, so they must be playing quite well.

“But we’re taking a good team down there. I’m feeling quite comfortable about the batting unit and I’m enthused by the bowling.”

‘Promising signs’

Staffordshire will field just a couple of players who featured in their last Championship outing.

And they will dish out seven county three-day debuts as skipper James Kettleborough, Brett, Priestley, Callum Hawkins, Liam Hurt, Sam Atkinson and Rory Haydon all make their red-ball bows for Staffs.

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“I think that it’s good we’ve got that freshness about us,” said Cartledge.

“There’s people queuing up to play and one or two who are disappointed that they’re not playing.

“That’s a positive because it shows the strength we have in the county. It shows Staffordshire cricket is in a good place in the long run.”

Picture: Staffordshire County Cricket Club director of cricket Dave Cartledge.