‘It’s a day which has the capability to shape our season’

Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr

Staffordshire head coach Andy Carr says his players have been looking to the past to help them in the present.

Carr and his Staffs squad are out to defend their NCCA Twenty20 Cup title this weekend when they head to Chester Boughton Hall on Sunday.

Staffordshire play Berkshire in their semi-final –  a repeat of last year’s final-four tie – in the second encounter of the day (1pm).

And Carr admits the players have been drawn on the euphoric feeling they had when they went on to defeat Cornwall in the 2023 final at Tring Park.

That marked a superb start to Carr’s reign as head coach. And he wants to sample a similar atmosphere this weekend to help shape the campaign.

“We spoke before the second game at Norfolk last weekend (in the Super 12 stage) about how we felt at Tring last summer,” said Carr.

“There was the excitement of being there, but the real excitement was winning the competition.

“Our social media groups have been active this week and the players really are up for it.

“It’s a day which has the capability to shape the summer. It’s only just begun, but if we can win it on Sunday it would take team morale up to a new level.

“There’s four good teams heading to finals day. We just have to look at our semi-final and go no further than that at present.”

‘Same again’

Staffordshire will play second on Sunday, with Cumbria and Oxfordshire’s clash kicking off proceedings.

Staffs had the same situation at Norwich’s Manor Park last Sunday.

They took a watching brief as Norfolk defeated Hertfordshire, before easily beating both sides in games two and three to advance to finals day.

Carr says that might help his side’s quest to retain their crown.

“It’s a bit of a bonus to be playing second,” he admitted. “It gives us the chance to look at how the wicket plays.

Nils Priestley happy to be targeted in Staffordshire’s cup quest

“And also the other teams approach the game, whether they favour spin or seam.

“There’s a whole catalogue of things we can take from watching the first match.

“We just have to focus on Berkshire, though. We know their strengths and they will know ours.

“Plans are in place and now it’s about executing them.”

‘Meticulous detail’

Staffs’ head coach says that last year’s T20 success may have come as a bit of a surprise.

However, he and skipper James Kettleborough have redoubled their efforts ahead of the current campaign.

It has been a rollercoaster ride reaching this stage. Staffs were initially knocked out after the initial group stage.

Four of their six matches were washed out. But they earned a reprieve after Northumberland were removed from the competition after breaking player rules.

Staffs took full advantage by winning their Super 12s group in East Anglia last week.

James Kettleborough looking for one final push in NCCA Twenty20 Cup

“A lot of planning took place the previous winter and to get to the T20 finals day was superb, even though it might have been unexpected,” explained Carr.

“That’s not down to talent alone, but it was a new core of players and for them to gel so quickly and win the cup was brilliant and down to a fantastic team ethic.

“We’ve done even more planning this year and the lads know themselves and each other inside out.

“We might have found our way through the back door, but if the weather had held at Carlisle and we’d played like we did last Sunday, we could have qualified anyway.

“We’re looking forward to the occasion. I know that we are capable of putting in decent performances.

“And good teams win trophies back to back – that’s our ambition this weekend.”

Main image: Andy Carr is looking for Staffordshire to defend their NCCA Twenty20 Cup title. Picture: Pete Stonier

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