Head coach Carr left concerned after another below-par batting display

Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr

Andy Carr admits it’s concerning to see Staffordshire’s top order struggling in the fashion they are.

Staffordshire produced their second successive poor batting performance in losing to Herefordshire in Sunday’s Knockout Trophy Group Two game at Eastnor.

That came just seven days after the batting unit failed to fire in the defeat by Norfolk at Smethwick.

Only Matt Morris, who made 51, could truly hold his head high at the weekend as Staffs slipped to the brink of 50-over elimination.

“It was frustrating,” said head coach Carr. “At Smethwick I was really disappointed and quite concerned about the way we got out.

“On Sunday, I didn’t think the dismissals were quite as bad, although we did play some poor shots.

“Our problems are still heavily weighted towards a lack of responsibility with the bat.

“It’s concerning that we’ve got a large percentage of our batters who are out of nick.

“Getting a score at league level is one thing – and even that isn’t happening on a regular basis.

“Then we step up to National Counties and we are getting found out.

It’s another bad Trophy day for Staffs as Herefordshire ease to win

“I fully support the lads and still firmly believe we have the best batsmen available to represent Staffordshire.

“I appreciate the wickets can be tricky at times, but we should be able to adapt to conditions and match situations.

“But at the moment our top five are out of form and no-one is taking us through this patch.”

‘Hectic times’

Carr says that the busy schedule has taken its toll on his players.

Staffs have a free weekend coming up, and he believes it has come at the ideal time.

“We’ve played a lot of cricket in a short space of time and done a lot of travelling,” added Carr.

“Those are not excuses, they are facts. The lads looked fatigued at Herefordshire.

“They’re playing on tricky wickets and in rearranged fixtures at league level – it all adds up.

“You don’t highlight these things when the lads are in form, you just go with it.

“But I believe there are reasons why we’re not performing to our capabilities.”

‘Top effort’

Carr did reserve praise for Westhoughton batsman Morris, who compiled a patient half-century.

He revealed that Morris almost didn’t make the side, before being preferred to left-arm spinner Anis Raza.

“I had a conversation with Matt in the week and explained that he might end up being 12th man,” explained Carr. “We didn’t know whether or not we wanted to go with the extra spinner.

“Matt’s attitude at Herefordshire was what we wanted and his batting performance and how he played the scoreboard pressure was perfect.

Staffordshire County Cricket Club's Matt Morris.
Matt Morris made 51 for Staffordshire in the NCCA Knockout Trophy Group Two defeat by Herefordshire. Picture: Pete Stonier

“That’s the commitment we love to see. Matt travelled not knowing he was definitely going to play and then performed like that.

“He showed us what he can do and full credit to him.”

Staffs were dismissed for 163 at Eastnor and then couldn’t take any wickets in the powerplay as Herefordshire settled into their task.

Staffs did gain some reward, although by then it was too late and the home side eased to a six-wicket win.

‘Below par’

“As much as we have focused on the batting, the bowling wasn’t much better,” conceded Carr.

“The two games we’ve lost, we have also looked at what the opposition have done well.

“The one thing we highlighted was they took wickets in the powerplay and we haven’t done that. We didn’t bowl the right lengths on Sunday and were getting cut and pulled.”

Staffordshire sit out this weekend’s round of matches, which sees a key clash between Shropshire and Herefordshire.

Staffordshire outclassed as Norfolk secure NCCA Knockout Trophy points

Staffs then conclude their group commitments on June 23 against Shropshire at Moddershall & Oulton.

Staffordshire will need to win that contest and then hope other results go their way to potentially progress to the quarter-finals.

“Norfolk are already through and we will be looking closely at the Herefordshire v Shropshire game this Sunday,” added Carr.

“We need to put in a performance against Shropshire and see what happens.

“If we fail to get through then we’re going to have to have another look as to why we’ve underachieved in 50-over cricket for another season.”

Main image: Staffordshire head coach Andy Carr saw his side well beaten by Herefordshire. Picture: Pete Stonier