Staffs were off the pace in Trophy defeat, admits Andy Carr

Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr

Head coach Andy Carr conceded Staffordshire had fallen below their levels in the NCCA Knockout Trophy defeat by Wiltshire on Sunday.

Staffs suffered a comprehensive seven-wicket defeat at Smethwick as Wiltshire took a firm grip on Group Four with back-to-back wins.

Staffordshire had opened their 50-over campaign with victory at Wales, but couldn’t back that up as they were second best against their rivals in the Black Country.

Carr’s side were reduced to 24-3 in the early stages before a fourth-wicket stand of 101 between Matthew Morris (71no) and Michael Hill (63) revived the innings.

However, a flurry of late wickets saw them bowled out for 214 – and that was a target Wiltshire eased to with six overs remaining.

“In the post-match chat it was difficult to nail the defeat down to a specific area,” said Carr. “Collectively we were five or 10 per cent below Wiltshire skills-wise across the board in batting, bowling and fielding.

“From a batting point of view, we were on the back foot early, losing three wickets in the powerplay. Then we had a tremendous comeback from Hilly and Matty.

“We probably should have pushed on again, but then lost six wickets for 70 runs. We could have taken it deeper than we did do.”

‘Big scores needed’

Staffs only managed to post 188 all out in their victory over Wales at Port Talbot the previous week.

That left the NCCA Twenty20 Cup champions reflected on two below-par batting performances, but Carr insists the talent is there to turn the tide.

“We’re waiting for that batter to get a big score,” explained Carr. “Hilly got 60 and Matty got 70, but we’re better than that as a group. We’re looking for a batter to get an 80 or 100 and others to chip in around that. We need to create partnerships and when that happens we will be able to post a big score.

“At the moment we’re not firing in that department.

Staffordshire batsman Matthew Morris walks off after making 71 not out in the NCCA Knockout Trophy defeat by Wiltshire.
Staffordshire batsman Matthew Morris walks off after making 71 not out in the NCCA Knockout Trophy defeat by Wiltshire. Picture: Allan Smith

“Nearly two-thirds of our innings were dot balls. Wiltshire ran the ball around better than us and we had to be a bit more pro-active and when boundaries were not an option we needed to pick the gaps better than we did.

“From 24-3 we would have taken 214 but on another day it could have been even more. I’m not concerned about the batting because we’ve got the calibre of player in the squad to overcome that.

“We are close to setting a score. It’s about game awareness and we have to be responsibility for our own destiny. Each and every one of the batters has a job to do.

“As a group we’ve got to look to bat longer. If the top five or six can bat for longer, then in the last five or 10 overs we can have a dart at it. At the moment we can’t because we’ve not got wickets in hand.”

‘Inconsistent bowling performance’

Staffordshire needed early wickets to put pressure on Wiltshire in their run chase.

But it turned out to be a relatively easy chase for the visitors as Tom Cullen (67no), Ben Draper (57no) and Jack Mynott (38) guided them over the line.

Captain James Kettleborough used eight bowlers, but it was to no avail.

“We bowled a little bit too full early on and were bowling both sides of the wicket,” said Carr.

“Their batsmen came in and played with freedom from ball one and we never managed to get a squeeze on. Bretty (Tom Brett) bowled well, but we need to support that at both ends.

“Ketts tried everything to find a breakthrough, it was just about finding something and we used our armoury. But nothing happened for us. We were not as penetrative as we have been and were not as consistent.

“Their left-arm seamer (Josh Croom, who took 5-32) bowled decent areas. That’s what you’ve got to do. Fifty overs is a long time and if you can stick to Plan A for as long as possible that helps, but we couldn’t do that.”

‘Long trip awaits’

The defeat means Staffs have to probably win their two remaining matches to qualify for the quarter-finals.

They make the trip to Dorset this weekend before wrapping up the group campaign at home against Buckinghamshire.

“Sometimes you need a defeat like we had on Sunday to regroup and reenergise and see where we are,” explained Carr.

“It’s not a failure. We didn’t get over the line, but it’s part of our journey to success.

“I’m quite confident it will all come together, but that needs to come from every direction.

“This Sunday is going to be a tough game. We need to win and we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got the right 11 lads on the park and that they turn up and are on it from ball one of the encounter.”

Main picture: Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr says the players didn’t hit their levels in the loss to Wiltshire.