Alex Mellor will put personal pride to one side as he plots a winning start to his Staffordshire captaincy.
The Leek skipper was named as the county’s player-coach in the winter, as well as taking on the leadership role of the Knockout Trophy side.
He will captain Staffs for the first time on Sunday when they take on Cumbria at Cockermouth in their opening Group One encounter (11am).
It will be a proud moment for the 29-year-old – and parents Brian and Lynne who will be watching – but the wicketkeeper-batsman is more interested in making sure Staffordshire start off on the right foot.
“I always said if I was offered the Staffs captaincy I’d snap your hand off,” said Mellor, who made his county debut in 2014.
“I am looking forward to it – as I do every time I walk out with the green and gold on, representing Staffs. It’s going to be a special day.
“But it’s more about scoring as many runs as I can and keeping as well as possible.
“We have such a strong team and we want to create some momentum and take that forward.
“I’ve got a pretty clear plan about how I’d like us to play and I know what we’re capable of.
“We want to play in the positive manner which we have done for years. We want to express ourselves.
“Hopefully we can get our tactics right and making a winning start.”
Staffs have been forced to wait for their return to action after the Twenty20 competition, scheduled for the early part of the season, was called off because of ongoing coronavirus restrictions.
That followed last year’s entire National Counties Cricket Association programme being called off because of the pandemic.
That has given Mellor and director of cricket Dave Cartledge extra time to plan as the county attempt to hit the silverware trail again.
“The T20s being called off was probably a blessing in disguise because it gave us the opportunity to get the squad together,” explained Mellor.
“The friendlies we have played showed what a strong squad we have. There’s plenty of strength in depth and every position has back up.
“That’s a nice place to be in, but now it’s up to the players to showcase their talent. I want to see bowlers performing that well I can’t take the ball off them and batsmen producing scores so they are immovable.”
Staffordshire, along with the rest of the counties, have to meet NCCA age restrictions when selecting their side.
The three oldest players are exempt, but the other eight must average 25 years of age or under.
Staffs have selected a good blend of youth and experience for their trip to Cumbria – which is the first of four group games.
The top two will progress through to the quarter-finals later in the summer.
Experience is provided by Peter Wilshaw, Paul Byrne, Michael Hill and Tim Maxfield, while younger talent like Alex Coates and Louis Allison are also named in the 12-man squad.
Porthill Park all-rounder Ben Cotton also returns to the county fold for the first time since making his solitary Staffs appearance in 2014.
“When it’s Ben’s day he is a horrible bowler to face,” said Mellor, who is expecting a tough battle this weekend.
“He’s got experience from playing at first-class level and he’s a really calm customer.
“He’s played at a high level domestically and his knowledge of the game is fantastic.
“We might have a strong side but so do Cumbria. Out of all the counties I’ve played against they would be number one in terms of the tight battles we’ve had.
“They are well led by Gary Pratt, but it’s up to us to stop their talent, so we need to make we turn up ready for battle.”