Dave Cartledge wants Staffordshire to pick up where they left off in the one-day arena when they return to action this weekend.
Staffs are making the long journey north to take on Cumbria at Cockermouth on Sunday in their opening National Counties Cricket Association Knockout Trophy fixture.
The Group One encounter represents the first time Staffordshire have played a competitive game since September 2019 when they lost to Berkshire in the Championship final.
Last summer’s action was wiped out because of the coronavirus pandemic, but as Cartledge and his players prepare for their comeback, they have good memories of the 50-over format.
They played some superb cricket in 2019 on their way to the semi-finals, with their quest for the one-day title ended by this weekend’s opponents Cumbria in a bowl-out after rain had prevented any play.
“There is a bit of unfinished business,” said director of cricket Cartledge. “We played really well in the one-dayers in 2019 and got on a roll.
“It was disappointing that the game against Cumbria went to a bowl-out because we did fancy our chances.
“We may have lost a season’s cricket, but I actually think we’ve got better – and not many others can say that.
“By that I mean there’s more competition for places and invariably that makes you a better side because players are pushing even harder to stay in the team or get into it.
“It will be interesting to see how we go over the next few weeks.
“We have the players to mix and match if we want, and I don’t mean that in a cocky way.
“But there’s former first-class cricketers back and youngsters emerging, so we are in a good place.”
This weekend’s fixture also represents the first match with Alex Mellor as the county’s one-day skipper.
He is also Staffordshire’s player-coach and has been appointed as 50-over captain following Kadeer Ali’s decision to step down because of work commitments at the end of the 2019 campaign.
“The downside is we don’t have Kaddy any more. He gave us a lot of experience and quality with the bat,” added Cartledge.
“He had an aura about him and opponents were worried about his ability both as a batsman and captain.
“I’ve been very impressed with Alex and what he’s done up to now and how he’s gone about things.
“We’ve put quite a bit on him with his coaching and also captaining the one-day side.
“We’re in a very good position in the backroom, though, and are not short of people we can call on for opinions.”
Staffordshire were hoping to hand Toby Bulcock his county debut in Sunday’s game.
But the Blackburn-based left-arm spinner misses out against his former county after testing positive for coronavirus. He is self-isolating for 10 days.
However, Staffordshire are still making the trip with a strong travelling party.
Experienced performers like Peter Wilshaw, Paul Byrne, Michael Hill and Tim Maxfield are included, along with youngsters like Jack Redman, Alex Coates and Louis Allison.
Hosts Cumbria are searching for their second successive win after defeating Cheshire by five wickets in their first game – a round of fixtures Staffordshire sat out.
Staffordshire (from): Alex Mellor (cpt, Leek), Zen Malik (Burslem), Matthew Morris (Westhoughton), Peter Wilshaw (Meakins), Michael Hill (Meakins), Jack Redman (Audley), Tim Maxfield (Brewood), Louis Allison (Porthill Park), Rob Hemmings (Audley), Paul Byrne (Meakins), Alex Coates (Longton), Ben Cotton (Porthill Park).