Staffordshire impress, but then fall flat in NSSCL friendlies

Staffordshire County Cricket Club captain James Kettleborough

Staffordshire were left with plenty to ponder after taking to the grass for the first time this season.

The county had seen their scheduled Twenty20 friendlies against North Wales at Burslem on Saturday fall victim to the poor weather which had prevented pitch preparation.

So their two T20s against the North Staffs and South Cheshire League XI at Caverswall on Sunday were their only chance to get outdoor practice under their belts before the National Counties Cricket Association campaign begins.

The matches, which formed part of the Vince Lindo Memorial day, started impressively for Staffs as they comfortably won the opening encounter by 41 runs in front of a big crowd.

However, they fell flat in the second, and despite only being set a chaseable 139 for victory, they folded to 85 all out to slump to a 53-run defeat.

That left new head coach Andy Carr and captain James Kettleborough with food for thought as they prepare for next Sunday’s T20 group curtain-raiser against Cumbria at Moddershall & Oulton.

The duo will take the positives from Staffordshire’s first game display.., and will be thankful that the poor batting performance in the second was only part of a friendly defeat.

Staffordshire did try out some plans in both matches. Scott Winnington was promoted to open the batting, while spin was also used to open the attack.

‘Experience counts’

It was two experienced campaigners who stole the show with the bat for Staffordshire in the first match as Peter Wilshaw and Kettleborough both plundered half-centuries.

Staffs had made a sedate start, reaching seven, for the loss of Winnington, in the first three overs.

However, from that point, Wilshaw and Kettleborough eased into their stride to bank some early-season form.

They put on 156 for the second wicket with some fine six-hitting which would have left the man of the day, Lindo, purring with delight as he looked down on proceedings.

Peter Wilshaw
Peter Wilshaw made 85 in Staffordshire’s opening win against the NSSCL

Kettleborough eventually fell for 70, which came off 49 balls and included four fours and four sixes.

Wilshaw was dismissed off the final ball of the innings, leaving Staffordshire on 177-3, when he was trapped lbw. His knock took a mere 58 balls and contained eight boundaries and four maximums.

The NSSCL’s reply never got off the ground as all-rounder Dan Richardson and recent signing Tom Brett both claimed a couple of wickets.
Ryan Hassett hit 21 at the top of the order, but they were left well beaten by the time Callum Leese provided some late fireworks.

Leese hit five sixes in his 48 not out as the league side drew stumps on 136-7.

‘Afternoon disappointment’

The roles were reversed in the second match, though, as Staffordshire couldn’t make it two wins out of two.

Double strikes from Wilshaw, Brett, Richardson and Michael Hill looked to have kept the NSSCL to a manageable score as they walked off with 138-8 on the board.

Leese again impressed with 34, while Sam Kelsall (28) and Louis Allison (24no) also played their part.

Staffordshire’s run chase faltered from the word go as they never managed to gain any momentum against a much-improved NSSCL attack.

Tom Moulton top-scored with 27, but Ed Jones’ 3-25, allied to twin strikes from Kelsall and Richard Williams, saw Staffs bundled out for 85.

Main picture: New Staffordshire captain James Kettleborough. Image:  Alfie Shenton