‘We owe it to ourselves and the county to put in a performance’

Staffordshire County Cricket Club's Tom Brett

Tom Brett has been having some sleepless nights… and not just because he’s recently become a dad.

The Staffordshire left-arm spinner and his fiancée Veritee welcomed daughter Violet into the world a couple of weeks ago.

But while he’s been helping to settle their new arrival into a routine, Brett has had plenty of things to ponder during night feeds and nappy changes.

And one of those things has been how Staffordshire can bounce back from their disappointing showing in last weekend’s NCCA Knockout Trophy game against Norfolk at Smethwick.

Staffs were bundled out for 157 in the Group Two clash after a below-par batting performance, before the East Anglians completed a five-wicket win with 10 overs to spare.

The big disappointment for Staffs was that, after last year’s 50-over qualification failure, the side eased to victory at Suffolk in this summer’s opener.

However, they couldn’t back that up on Sunday as they fell flat.


Head coach Andy Carr and skipper James Kettleborough were left less than impressed by the display – and Brett admitted the players could have few complaints.

“The talk in pre-season was about the 50-over stuff and how we can put it right. We’ve seen both sides of us so far,” said 34-year-old Brett.

“Suffolk was the blueprint for us – it was like old-school one-day cricket in terms of batting long and then making the most of the last 10 overs.

“Against Norfolk we saw the other side. I don’t think the mindset changed, we just didn’t get things right.

“Five or six of our key players got themselves out, even though there was a bit in it for the seamers.

“We can’t give wickets away in that fashion. Trying to defend a total like that was always going to be tough and it became pretty undefendable once we didn’t pick wickets up in the powerplay.

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“But the wicket had flattened out at that point and there wasn’t much assistance for our seamers. They bowled well, though, but didn’t get any reward.

“We were disappointed. You look around the team with the batting and firepower we have and we shouldn’t be bowled out for that type of score.

“If someone had managed to dig in and we had got another 30 or 40 runs, you look at the Norfolk tail and it could have been game on.

“Ketts (James Kettleborough) said in the debrief that if we are going to lose a game, then fine. But to lose a game without putting up much of a fight is just not acceptable.

“We had them five down with 20-odd still needed and you thought if we could go bang, bang, we could have bowled them out.”

‘Back on track’

Staffordshire will now look to get back on track when they head to Eastnor to take on Herefordshire on Sunday (11am).

They then wrap up their 50-over group commitments with a home game against Shropshire at Moddershall & Oulton on June 23.

Two wins will see Staffs through to the quarter-final stage – and Brett says they have to make amends.

“It’s a massive motivation for us to put things right,” added Brett. “I fully expect us to bounce back this weekend.

“We have two games left and we know we have to win this weekend first. Otherwise we could be out.

Staffordshire County Cricket Club's Tom Brett and James Kettleborough celebrate the NCCA T20 Cup win.
Tom Brett and James Kettleborough celebrate the NCCA T20 Cup win last season. Picture: Alfie Shenton

“It’s frustrating. There’s only so much Carri and Ketts can say to the group – it’s up to us.

“There’s no margin for error. We’ve got to put a performance in.

“We let Carri down last weekend. All the effort he puts in and work he does, we owe him one.

“We have to do it for ourselves and also do it for the county.”

‘Good move’

It is just over 12 months since Brett made the move to Staffordshire.

The former Northamptonshire slow left-armer switched from Bedfordshire to change allegiances along with his close friend Kettleborough.

Brett, who plays his club cricket for Finedon Dolben in the Northants League, says the experience has justified ending his long association with Beds.

“It has been absolutely everything I expected and more. I didn’t realise how professional it was going to be – from pre-season to warm-ups and debriefs,” explained Brett.

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“The amount of effort put in by Carri and Ketts is phenomenal. I’ve not experienced something like that since I was a pro.

“I definitely feel like a Staffie now. It was a big decision to move, but the welcome I’ve had, both home and away, from our supporters has been amazing.

“Everyone is always happy to talk to you. It’s been class and I can’t thank people enough.”

‘Silverware trail’

Brett admitted that a main reason for his move was to win silverware.

And he managed to pocket his first piece just six weeks into his Staffordshire stint as he helped the county to win the T20 Cup for the first time in their history.

Staffs defeated Berkshire in their semi-final at Tring Park before holding their nerve to beat Cornwall in the showpiece.

Staffordshire went on to disappoint in the Knockout Trophy, but then recovered to finish second in Division One East of the Championship.

They ended up just four points shy of winners Buckinghamshire, who went on to clinch the overall title by thrashing Devon.

Staffordshire County Cricket Club spinner Tom Brett
Spinner Tom Brett impressed in his first season with Staffordshire. Picture: Alfie Shenton

“It was awesome to win a trophy so soon after joining. That’s why I joined and it was amazing to win the T20 Cup,” said Brett.

“I’ve not had a feeling like that in cricket and hopefully we get the chance to replicate that this year.

“I think I did pretty well overall last season. I had one bad game in the T20s, but the wickets I took I was happy with.

“In the three-dayers we were so close. We had a little bit of misfortune with the rain in the final match. But we were also outplayed by Bucks.

“If you had offered me a seven-for and two five-fors in the Championship I’d have taken that.”

‘Stop-start season’

This summer’s action has been, at times, frustrating for Brett.

The inclement conditions meant four of Staffs’ six T20 group games were washed out.

The only action that saw was a win and a defeat against Northumberland at Burslem.

Staffordshire looked to have been knocked out of the competition. But they were given a reprieve after Northumberland broke player regulations.

That meant Staffs were reinstated to the Super 12s stage where they thumped Hertfordshire and Norfolk at Norwich’s Manor Park to reach finals day once again.

However, the great British weather then came to Brett’s rescue.

He was scheduled to miss finals day, where Staffordshire were set to play Berkshire, at Chester Boughton Hall after Veritee gave birth just 48 hours’ before.

‘Second chance’

But the rain ruined Sunday’s play – and also the reserve day – meaning it will be replayed later in the season.

“I was texting Carri on T20 finals day and asked why I couldn’t see anything on the live stream and he said it’s raining,” added Brett.

“On the reserve day the same thing happened and he told me it was off.

“We’ve got a hard draw against Berkshire again and they’ve got a strong side. But there’s no reason why we can’t beat them again.

“I didn’t have much choice about not playing because of the birth, but I was gutted that I wasn’t there.

“Hopefully I get the chance to play when it’s rearranged.”

Main image: Tom Brett is looking for Staffordshire to bounce back this weekend. Picture: Pete Stonier