‘Really prolific teams win trophies back to back – that’s our aim this season’

Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr is targeting more success in the 2024 NCCA season.

Andy Carr has challenged his side to be ‘prolific’ as he heads into his second season as Staffordshire head coach.

Carr, alongside new captain James Kettleborough, enjoyed a memorable first summer at the helm. The county secured the NCCA Twenty20 Cup for the first time.

Staffordshire defeated Berkshire in their semi-final and then Cornwall in the showpiece at Tring Park to pocket a piece of silverware before May was out.

That marked a superb start to Carr and Kettleborough’s reign and although the subsequent Knockout Trophy campaign disappointed, Staffs played some superb cricket in the red-ball format to finish as runners-up in Division One East.

Carr, aged 50, is now setting his sights on bringing more trophies back to the county. But he acknowledges the challenges which lie ahead.

“A defence of the T20 competition would be nice,” said Carr ahead of the 2024 National Counties Cricket Association programme.

“We played extremely well in 2023 and certain individuals had an incredible campaign.

“However, we know that we cannot become complacent as other teams will now raise their game against us.

“This is yesterday’s news now. No matter how successful both individuals and the team were last season, the celebrations have ended.

“Really prolific teams go and win trophies back to back, and that is exactly what we will try to achieve for our supporters.”

Success may have come in the formative stages of Carr’s time in charge. But he insists he always thought there was the opportunity to make an early impression.


However, he admits that there were a few nerves knocking around as he entered his first season as head coach.

“Taking into consideration both the first team and development squads, I strongly believed silverware was always possible,” added Carr.

“Staffordshire Cricket seems to be in an extremely good position at present with the strength and depth. It all breeds well for success.

“The talent we have available in both the north and south of the county speaks volumes, with a great balance of experience and youth. If players executed their full potential and the team values and ethics were met, then trophies would automatically follow.

“It’s important we remain grounded and mentor and support fresh talent in the way we wish all players represent Staffordshire cricket.

“In the first full year of being head coach, I would be kidding myself if I said I wasn’t apprehensive.

Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr addresses the players
Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr addresses the players ahead of the Showcase Game against Leicestershire at Knypersley. Picture: Alfie Shenton

“There are so many variables between different characteristics of players. It is important to support all individuals separately to ensure each player is receiving the maximum amount of attention required.

“Being clear on communication and having clarity was important for me. Technically most players know their own game inside out. They are more than likely going to ask for assistance when they feel they require it most, rather than a coach jumping in at a wrong time.

“Tactically assisting players with game plans is at times rewarding, from outside the boundary. Remaining calm and composed is a great tool to have in your bag. The game is constantly moving and we all have to adapt accordingly.”

‘Happy summer’

Staffordshire failed to qualify from their 50-over group last summer, although the weather had a big say on matters.

And apart from a heavy defeat by Buckinghamshire at West Bromwich Dartmouth, Staffs impressed in the Championship format.

That left them just four points behind eventual winners Bucks when the season came to an end.

Duo in the frame to make Staffordshire debuts against Cheshire

“Considering this was a new regime of players, generally I felt we performed very well in our first year. There were a considerable amount of positives compared to negatives,” explained Carr.

“The T20 campaign speaks for itself. The Knockout Trophy was possibly our weakest area of performance, we just never seemed to be consistent enough to dominate our opponents.

“However we have spoken in depth during the winter about our plans, and hopefully we can bounce back and improve in this format.

“The Championship was where we did come into our own. I felt we played extremely well across three games.

Staffordshire County Cricket Club won the NCCA Twenty20 Cup last season.
Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr and captain James Kettleborough with the NCCA Twenty20 Cup. Picture: Alfie Shenton

“Our home game at West Brom, where historically we haven’t lost for a number of years, became our graveyard for all three days.

“It was an extremely disappointing result and performance, because we knew we had underachieved. However, this does happen. We can take an awful lot of learnings from games like that one, and ensure we rectify our misfortunes.

“There were two areas we fell short in, one which was in our control and one wasn’t.

“A rain-affected day on the first day at Checkley against Lincolnshire, where we very nearly clinched a two-day victory, was a fantastic game of cricket, but frustrating to be beaten by the weather, and was out of our control.

“The area which was in our control was the game against Bucks. There was too many areas we fell short in, which allowed our opposition to capitalise on our weakness. They played very well, and were deserved winners of the division.”

‘Busy schedule’

However, it wasn’t just first-team affairs which Carr oversaw.

He was in charge of the development side and with his pathway commitments, he had to make a big decision over his own playing career.

“Including pathway, first team and development XI, plus the pre-season schedule, it was 65-plus days of cricket, which seemed quite daunting,” he said.

“Running a business, family commitments and still trying to get a game of cricket in myself was always going to be a challenge at some stage.

“Once getting into June and looking at the next two months ahead, with a period of 16 days of consecutive cricket approaching, a re-evaluation started to take place.

New players added to Staffordshire squad for 2024 NCCA season

“After a conversation with my club captain (James Kettleborough) I decided to call a halt to my first XI club cricket, to ensure I reserved my energy for the multi-day Championship campaign. That was a decision which was not taken lightly after 36 years, but the right one for all.

“Having got to the end of the season and reviewed the season’s schedule, I believe it was all managed to the best of my ability with outstanding support from numerous individuals.”

Suitably refreshed, Carr has had a hectic winter as he and Kettleborough look to build on their 2023 efforts.

‘High hopes’

And the head coach is targeting another fine summer for players, officials, coaches and supporters.

“From the outset in November 2022 both myself, captain and players introduced a string of non-negotiable and team values which we all agreed to and brought into them extremely well. Win, lose or draw we would always respect and revert back to these during post-match team talks,” added Carr.

“As a unit we have spoken in depth this winter about our 50-over campaign, and the reasons behind why we were not as successful as we would have liked.

“Our thought process and plans will hopefully look quite different, and if we execute our skills and plans differently to last year, I’m confident we will see some different results in 2024.

Staffordshire County Cricket Club will play a first-team match at Stafford in 2024.
Staffordshire County Cricket Club produced some fine performances in the 2023 NCCA Championship format. Picture: Alfie Shenton

“This winter has given us the opportunity to identify new talent within the county, based on a few existing players struggling to commit to the winter programme.

“We have also had other squad players who have had the winter playing overseas. Therefore squad numbers have been lower than last winter. But this resulted in giving existing lads more contact time, and given us the opportunity of witnessing new talent. However, moving closer to the season, lads have started to return from their season overseas, and suddenly the squad reunites.

“We now have a great balance of existing and new players for the summer ahead. That provides us with more rounded options for each format of the summer, which could prove to be exciting.

“We haven’t set any particular targets or channelled our focus on one particular format. All three formats are equally as important to both the players and the coaching team.

“If we continue to improve and develop as a group, then naturally silverware will follow. To do this we have to remain grounded, be consistent, and not let complacency breed.

“We will take each game as it comes, prepare our plans and try to execute them to the best of our ability. If this bears fruit then I’m sure we are all in for a fantastic summer.”

Main image: Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr is targeting more success in the 2024 NCCA season. Picture: Alfie Shenton

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