Lack of responsibility, pride and desire disappoints head coach Carr

Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr

Andy Carr pulled no punches when assessing Staffordshire’s performance in their NCCA Knockout Trophy loss to Norfolk – and issued a stark warning to his players.

Staffs suffered a five-wicket defeat at the hands of the East Anglians at Smethwick on Sunday as they failed to build on their opening Group Two win at Suffolk.

Staffordshire’s performance evoked memories of their loss to Wiltshire at the same venue in 2023.

And head coach Carr was quick to make his feelings known about the display.

Carr saw his side bundled out for 157 by Norfolk after they had been invited to bat on a drying wicket.

Callum Hawkins (32), Reeve Evitts (30), Liam Hurt (28) and Michael Hill (24) were the only players to make starts.

Norfolk then pretty much eased home, with more than 10 overs remaining, despite Tom Brett’s three-wicket haul.

Carr pinpointed Staffs’ batting blues as the key reason for the defeat – and it’s not the first time it has happened over the last couple of seasons.

‘Batting issues’

“On the hour’s drive home I had a long chat with the skipper (James Kettleborough). We spoke in depth about our misfortunes and the things which didn’t go to plan,” said Carr.

“It was really disappointing. We have talked heavily about plans and the worrying thing is that it’s the same topic which keeps rearing its head.

“We would have bowled first, but we can’t blame the toss for the result. Our senior players should have taken more responsibility.

“We have got highly-skilled players, the best the county can offer. We should be able to adapt to any situation, but four of our top five batsmen threw their wickets away. It was down to sheer carelessness.

Staffordshire outclassed as Norfolk secure NCCA Knockout Trophy points

“We scored 48 off the first 10 overs and only lost one wicket. Callum (Hawkins), to be fair, looked quite solid and set us up with a reasonable platform.

“The message coming back from the middle was that it was hard work, but you have to accept that the opposition are allowed to bowl well.

“We wanted to take it as deep as we could, but we only had three partnerships of 30-plus and it wasn’t until Reeve (Evitts) came in that we steadied the ship.”

‘Action required’

Staffordshire slipped from 43-0 to 58-4 at one stage and once Norfolk seized the initiative, they never relinquished their stranglehold.

Carr insists that talk is cheap regarding batting issues – it’s time for his players to act.

“The lads are capable of stopping the bleeding and finding their way out of difficult situations,” added Carr.

“If the same topic keeps coming up we are going to have to look at it deeper and assess the situation.

“We can’t keep talking about it, it has to come to fruition, although it’s the first time it’s happened in the 50-over competition this season.

“I hope the lads have reflected on it and put it behind them, but if it happens again we’ll have to act.

“They don’t become bad players overnight. That sort of thing happens at all levels of cricket. If we could perform as we did at Suffolk and in the T20 Super 12s throughout the season, that would be formidable

“It’s important the lads grasp why this sort of thing keeps happening. We know we are better than that.”

Norfolk openers Alfie Cooper and Sam Arthurton put on 73 for the first wicket in the run chase to break the back of the target.

‘Lack of hunger’

Staffs picked up wickets at sporadic intervals, but were never in a position to truly put pressure on their rivals, who have now won both of their matches.

And that led Carr to questioning the desire of Staffordshire’s side.

“If you put the boot on the other foot, Norfolk’s coach would have been mortified at how they lost their first three wickets,” explained Carr.

“Bretty and Nils bowled nicely and with more runs on the board could have been more effective.

“We knew the strengths of Norfolk, but at times it didn’t look like we were hungry enough. As a coach it’s disappointing that we weren’t.

“We have to take games down to the wire and fight for every ball. It just felt like we were resigned to the fact that we were going to lose.

“We were not as consistent with the ball and there was a boundary delivery in lots of overs. NCCA players are good enough to punish them. I don’t believe we fought hard enough.”

‘Recovery mission’

Staffordshire head to Eastnor to play Herefordshire this Sunday as they look to get back on track.

They then wrap up their 50-over group commitments against Shropshire at Moddershall & Oulton on June 23.

The picture is clear for Staffs with two victories needed to confirm their place in the quarter-finals.

Carr is demanding a response from the players when they make this weekend’s road trip.

“It’s put a bit more pressure on us on Sunday and we can’t underestimate them. We’ve got two matches left and we’ve got to get back on it – and quickly,” said Carr. “We have to bounce back and see a reaction.

“Players have to realise that when they represent the county it should mean a hell of a lot.

“They have to wear the county badge with pride and that didn’t come across from all of them on Sunday.”

Main image: Staffordshire head coach Andy Carr has reacted to his side’s NCCA Knockout Trophy loss to Norfolk. Picture: Pete Stonier