Meticulous approach is paying off for Staffordshire head coach Andy Carr

Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr.

Staffordshire head coach Andy Carr says no stone will be left unturned as he looks to navigate the county through NCCA Twenty20 Cup finals day.

Carr, in his first season at the helm, has adopted a meticulous approach to planning during the winter programme.

Alongside skipper James Kettleborough, that has paid off handsomely as Staffordshire have qualified for this weekend’s showpiece event at Tring Park for the first time.

Staffs face Berkshire in the opening semi-final (10am) before Cornwall take on Hertfordshire in the afternoon.

Staffordshire have been handed arguably the toughest draw against a Berkshire side who have dominated the National Counties Cricket Association scene in recent years.

But Carr is intent on giving his players every chance of progressing to the late-afternoon final.

“We have discussed our knowledge on Berkshire’s strengths. And we have started to discuss plans to try and combat that,” said Carr. “We want to counter their strengths, but also want to play to our capabilities and control what we do.

“The way we’ve discussed our approach is not looking at the full 20 overs, we’ve broken it down from that.

“We have plans for the powerplay, middle overs and then the last four or five.

“It has been difficult in the group stages with plans because some of the games have been reduced to 10 or 12 overs.

“They have changed, but the lads have brought into that. When players have had an opportunity, they have taken it.”

‘Nerves are natural’

Carr expects there to be a butterfly or two in the stomachs of Staffs’ players on the day, but he’s not concerned by the prospect.

He points to the fact there’s a wealth of experience in the 13-man travelling squad. That includes seamer Liam Hurt, who played for Lancashire against Kent in last year’s Royal London 50-over final.

“I think at any sporting level when you get to a finals day there will be a percentage of nerves,” added Carr.

“We’re fortunate that we have the experience of James Kettleborough, Peter Wilshaw and Michael Hill, among others. They have come across these players before.

“We want the lads to enjoy it and do what they’ve done to get to this stage. They have to play positively and support each other.

“It’s about keeping calm, maintaining our focus and executing our skills on the day.”

‘Big decision’

Carr, Kettleborough and director of cricket Dave Cartledge had a tough selection call to make before finalising their 13-man squad.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Spencer Byatt has been given the nod to replace Callum Hawkins behind the stumps.

Byatt played in the fixtures at Northumberland, but was unavailable for the double headers against Shropshire and Cheshire which handed Hawkins his chance.

However, Staffs have opted for Byatt to take the gloves on finals day.

Spencer Byatt determined to seize his big Staffordshire chance

“Callum was great against Shropshire and Cheshire and kept really well, especially at Leek,” explained Carr.

“Unfortunately he’s not had the opportunity with the bat. We spoke to Callum and we’ve decided to go with the extra experience of Spencer with the gloves.

“But Callum is continuing to develop really well. We’ve got a good squad and there are lads that have missed out on selection who could easily have played on Sunday.

“The future is looking really exciting for us.”

Tickets for finals day are price at £9.50 if purchased in advance or £12.50 on the day. Children under-16 are admitted for free.

Gates will open at 9am and there is free onsite parking. Refreshments will be available throughout the day.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Main image: Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr. Picture: Alfie Shenton