Spinner Tom Brett left buzzing after T20 Cup win

Staffordshire County Cricket Club spinner Tom Brett

If you’ve seen a man grinning like a Cheshire cat this week, you’ve probably bumped into Staffordshire spinner Tom Brett.

The slow left-armer admits he’s had an extra spring in his step after helping the county to win the NCCA T20 Cup at Tring Park last weekend.

Brett, aged 33, made the move to Staffordshire from Bedfordshire over the winter on a mission to land a piece of silverware.

But even he couldn’t have anticipated that two months into the season he’d have achieved that objective.

Staffordshire overcame Berkshire in their semi-final, piling up 252-2 on the back of Nils Priestley’s 147 not out, eventually winning by 68 runs.

They then went on to beat Cornwall in a nerve-jangling final by four runs to bring the trophy home.

“It’s just about sinking in now, I’m getting there,” said Brett, who is part of the Staffs squad to play Wales in the Knockout Trophy tomorrow.

“I spoke to Ketts (James Kettleborough, Staffs captain) and told him that by Sunday my feet will be back on the ground again! I couldn’t sleep on Sunday night, it was an awesome day. It’s right up there with what I’ve achieved in my cricket career.

“That feeling walking off as a team, people clapping us off and seeing how happy the committee and supporters were. It was a buzz which I’ve never had before.

“I think we knew we had a stiff test first up because Berkshire have won a lot in recent seasons.

‘Piling on the runs’

“But we felt that if we could put a score on the board, we’d have a chance. We ended up putting a massive score on the board and that took the pressure off a little bit.

“Nils has been in good form, but what he produced on Sunday was freakish. I’m pleased he’s been given a chance with Worcestershire because he’s on fire.

“It will be interesting to see how his summer goes. It would be sad to lose him if we did because he’s a match winner. But that’s what we are here for – to give lads the chance to perform and move up the cricket ladder if the opportunity arises.”

‘Spin king’

Brett took 2-33 from his four overs against Berkshire, but found the pitch more to his liking in the final against Cornwall.

Staffs had only managed to post 119, but Brett claimed 1-20 from his allocation to play his part in the victory.

“We were disappointed with the score we made in the final. But we knew the pitch was getting slower. And there was the added pressure of it being a final,” explained the former Northamptonshire spinner.

Staffordshire County Cricket Club's Tom Brett and James Kettleborough celebrate the NCCA T20 Cup win.
Staffordshire County Cricket Club’s Tom Brett and James Kettleborough celebrate the NCCA T20 Cup win.

“We knew a couple of early wickets could cause panic and we just had to turn the screw. They got themselves back into it with a partnership, but it turned out to be an amazing game to be involved in.

“The pitch was better for spinners in the final. One or two stopped and one or two gripped. In the first game I wasn’t trying to spin it, I was trying to bowl flatter so I didn’t get hit over the top.

“The second game I gave it a chance to spin and we knew it would be tough for Cornwall. We got some great spin options in Zen Malik, Nils Priestley and Pete Wilshaw. We back ourselves.”

‘Tense time’

Cornwall were left needing 11 runs to win off the final over and Liam Hurt used his experience to ensure they didn’t manage it.

Brett says it was a feeling of relief at the end – and also a sense of redemption after what happened in the final group game at Cheshire.

He went for 35 off his three overs at Nantwich, taking one wicket, in a game Staffordshire eventually won by 10 runs.

“I was luckily out of the firing line at fine leg for the final over,” said Brett. “After the first two balls, a bit of panic set in, but then Liam nailed his yorkers, which is incredibly hard to do.

“That’s why he’s been signed. He showed his experience. It was a bit surreal when their lad just patted the last ball back, but it was a relief to get over the line.

“The last game leading in to finals day was three weeks before and it didn’t go to plan for me. I didn’t bowl horrendously. But it was difficult with a short straight boundary.

“I wanted to put that right and spent the time before finals day stewing on it.  I was pleased I was able to put in a performance for the lads.”

‘Warm welcome’

Brett, who plays his club cricket for Finedon Dolben in the Northamptonshire League, is understandably delighted to have broken his NCCA duck in such swift fashion.

But equally as important to him is the fact he’s been so warmly welcomed into the Staffordshire dressing room.

“The lads have been brilliant with me. In my own head I wanted to do well after the Cheshire game and I put pressure on myself. I wondered what the lads were thinking about me.

“I’m feeling more comfortable now and winning a cup is special and definitely feel a part of the team now.

“I didn’t think winning a trophy would happen so quickly. We only played four group games because of the weather. Then won the two on finals day. So to win five out of six is a pretty good effort.

“Credit has to go to Andy Carr (head coach) and Ketts for the work they have put in. It’s so professional and the planning is meticulous. It’s a special environment to be part of.”

‘New challenge’

Brett and his Staffordshire team-mates now turn their attention to the 50-over format this weekend.

They start their Group Four campaign at Wales before hosting Wiltshire, visiting Dorset and entertaining Buckinghamshire.

“The lads can go to Wales with confidence because we know we can win trophies as a group now,” added Brett.

“The T20 competition was probably the one we didn’t fancy as much with the squad we have. It was more about the 50-over and Championship formats. So to win it means we can head into the Knockout Trophy buzzing. The main thing is taking it game by game, we can’t afford to get giddy.

“It has been one of those weeks where I’ve had an extra spring in my step, but on Sunday we have to make sure we have the same energy as we did in the T20s.

“The 50-over matches suits our batting line-up even more and we’ve also got so many options with the ball.”

Tom Brett is being kindly sponsored by Sharp, Cross & Mann Solicitors for the 2023 season.