‘This isn’t just a day out for Staffordshire’s players’

Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr.

Andy Carr says his Staffordshire players are ready to complete their Twenty20 revival by bringing home the silverware.

Staffs have, in the past, found T20 cricket tricky to conquer in the National Counties Cricket Association programme.

But this year they have qualified for finals day for the first time in their history by topping Group One.

Staffordshire play previous winners Berkshire in the first semi-final at Tring Park tomorrow (10am) before Cornwall and Hertfordshire do battle in the afternoon last-four clash.

Herts are another side who have experience of lifting the T20 Cup, but Carr – in his first season as head coach – insists Staffs are determined to go all the way.

“Going on previous years performances, T20 cricket has been one of the unfavourable formats for us,” said Carr.

“To get to finals day in the first year of taking on the new roles is a great sign of things to come for all the players, officials, and members alike.

“The players and the club thoroughly deserve it. It’s not down to luck, we have played some exceptional cricket.

“There’s been some bad weather around and the pitches have been difficult because of that. When we’ve managed to get out there, and we’ve lifted our mindset and got on with things.

“This is more than a day out for us. We probably have the toughest draw, but we don’t want to go down there for the giggles. We’re going down in search of silverware to win it.

“It’s why the players enjoy playing for Staffordshire – to be involved in occasions like this.”

‘Road to finals day’

Staffordshire’s Group One campaign started with a wash out against Cumbria, before they lost their first competitive game against Northumberland.

They bounced back to win the second clash, and in between the weather which has hampered all sides, they have chalked up wins against Shropshire and Cheshire.

That led to them topping the section to secure their spot at Tring Park this weekend.

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“In the first game at Northumberland we didn’t bowl very well, but we had a good discussion and since then we’ve played really well,” added Carr.

“Credit to the lads, they are a new group, but we’ve got great options with bat and ball.

“The players can play with freedom, be positive, because they know their roles in the side and what is expected.”

Staffordshire have named a 13-man squad to make the trip south as they look to kick off their season with the first piece of NCCA silverware on offer.

‘Formidable challenge’

However, in Berkshire they play a side who have dominated this level of cricket in recent years, both in red-ball and white-ball formats.

“Being on first is good because it means that we can get there and get started,” explained Carr.

“A finals day can be hard when you’re just sitting around. But being the first game on, if we win, will enable us to review what has happened. Then we can either recover or regroup.

‘Our focus is on playing our best cricket’

“If we don’t beat Berkshire then we will be thankful for the opportunity of being there, review our plans and shift our focus onto the 50 over format.

“Berkshire are a formidable outfit in both NCCA and pathway cricket, but our players know what is required.

“We’ve got further than we ever have before and although silverware is our priority, we didn’t necessarily bank on getting to finals day in our first year.

“It would be nice to get our name on the board in winning a white-ball competition. Hopefully that can be the start of things to come.”

Tickets for finals day are price at £9.50 if purchased in advance or £12.50 on the day. Children under-16 are admitted for free.

Gates will open at 9am and there is free onsite parking. Refreshments will be available throughout the day.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Main image: Staffordshire County Cricket Club head coach Andy Carr. Picture: Alfie Shenton