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

Staffordshire County Cricket Club all-rounder Nils Priestley

Nils Priestley insists he has no problems with being a marked man this weekend.

Staffordshire all-rounder Priestley is part of the squad heading to Chester Boughton Hall looking to help the county to defend their NCCA Twenty20 Cup title.

The 23-year-old was at the forefront of Staffs’ success last year as he produced a record-breaking performance at Tring Park on a never-to-be forgotten day.

Priestley became the first Staffordshire to score a T20 century when he blazed an unbeaten 147 in the semi-final victory over Berkshire.

And it will be Berkshire initially standing in the defending champions’ way on Sunday. The pair meet in the second last-four tie of the day.

That follows the first semi-final between Cumbria and Oxfordshire.

‘One to watch’

And Priestley is well aware that Berkshire head coach Tom Lambert and skipper Dan Lincoln might have given him some special attention in the build up to this weekend’s showdown.

“Berkshire will be hunting for me after last year, but that could work in our favour,” said Priestley, who plays his club cricket for Checkley.

“They could forget that we have 10 other players in the team that can win cricket matches.

“Our squad is so strong and if one of us fails we have other people to step up.

James Kettleborough looking for one final push in NCCA Twenty20 Cup

“If I don’t get any, there’s Zen (Malik), Ketts (James Kettleborough) and Hilly (Michael Hill) or with the ball Hurty (Liam Hurt) can blow a team away.

“We have match-winners throughout our team. Berkshire will know about us and having spent some time with Dan and Tom with the NCCA representative side, they are big on match ups.

“But they must have had a plan last year and it didn’t work out for them, so hopefully we can repeat that.

“It’s good that we’ve got to play Berkshire, because potentially we’d have to face them if we wanted to win it. But there’s no doubt the four strongest sides have reached finals day.”

‘Happy memories’

Priestley peppered the boundary regularly on last summer’s finals day, hitting 12 fours and 10 sixes.

But he wasn’t finished there and played a star role in the final victory over Cornwall.

He scored 57 and then took four wickets as Staffordshire edged out the Duchy.

Priestley admits he’d love another ‘day out’ at Chester Boughton Hall this weekend. But he is just happy to contribute to more Staffs success.

“Finals day last year was as memorable as it can get, not just want I did individually, but what we did as a team,” he added.

“I’d really like to repeat the feat, but I don’t think I will ever do something like that ever again.

Staffordshire County Cricket Club batsman Nils Priestley celebrates his century against Berkshire in the NCCA Twenty20 Cup.
Staffordshire County Cricket Club batsman Nils Priestley celebrates his century against Berkshire in the NCCA Twenty20 Cup in 2023. Picture: Alfie Shenton

“The mood I was in, I don’t really remember too much about it. It was just a crazy day.

“But what I did in the final was better in my view because the 147 wouldn’t have mattered if we didn’t win the cup.

“It was pleasing to do both and help us to win. I will always remember the 147, of course. But that final performance was more important. It means more.

Andy Carr proud of Staffordshire players’ efforts

“Personally I will take confidence going into the game. Who wouldn’t after playing them (Berkshire) once and scoring 147?

“I’ll back myself again and continue to play as I normally do on Sunday.

“It doesn’t have to be another 147 and us getting 250-plus. If I can, for example score 50 off 18 balls and that gets us off to a good start and we post 180 and defend it, then that’s just as crucial.”

‘Top form’

Staffordshire were initially knocked out of the competition at the initial group stage after seeing four of their six matches called off because of the weather.

However, they were handed a spot in the Super 12s last weekend after Northumberland were removed for breaking player rules.

And Staffs made the most of that reprieve. They beat Hertfordshire and Norfolk at Norwich’s Manor Park to progress to finals day.

“We needed the run out on Sunday. It was important to show those performance levels as well,” explained Priestley.

Nils Priestley is back in the squad for the trip to Dorset.
Nils Priestley  was also instrumental with the ball in last year’s NCCA Twenty20 Cup finals say. Picture: Alfie Shenton

“We might not have been in the Super 12s through anything we did wrong because the weather had a big say in the group stage.

“It wasn’t as though we played badly, but we dominated on Sunday in all three facets of the game.

“We played second and third at Norfolk and we’re second and hopefully third, this weekend. We know how the day pans out and last Sunday showed that we didn’t have any fatigue.”


Priestley says that last weekend’s performances leave Staffordshire in good shape heading into finals day.

He concedes that Staffs, as cup holders, are there to be shot down. But he believes the team spirit in the group can help them to keep their hands on the silverware.

“We’ll have confidence going into the day because we’re the reigning champions,” said Priestley.

“That comes with a target on our backs – but that’s been the case for the whole tournament. Everyone will have wanted to beat us.

“No-one has ever defended the T20 title, so that’s on our minds to achieve. If we can go back to back we can take that into the other formats.

“We want to go as far as we can in all three competitions.

Super Staffordshire power their way to NCCA Twenty20 Cup finals day

“We’re starting to really gel now. Last year was the first year under Carri (Andy Carr, head coach) and Ketts (James Kettleborough, captain) and, in a way, we got success out of nothing.

“But the longer we stay together, I’ve played in enough teams to know that if you play with 10 mates and enjoy it, it makes like a lot easier.

“We don’t enjoy losing and want to breed a culture and sustain it for years to come.

“We have the confidence that we are one of the best NCCA teams. Other sides know they have to bring their A game to beat us.

“I’d say if you ask Berkshire who their main rivals are, they’d say us. I’m really looking forward to Sunday.”

Main image: Nils Priestley is relishing another appearance at NCCA Twenty20 Cup finals day. Picture: Pete Stonier

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