Cricket: We have belief this could be our year, says Goodwin
CAPTAIN Paul Goodwin insists Staffordshire have every reason to believe they can become Knockout Trophy kings.
The county negotiated a potentially tricky quarter-final against Suffolk yesterday with consummate ease to earn a home semi-final against Wiltshire at Leek on July 1.
Craig Barker (4-33) and Atiq Chishti (3-29) were the headline-makers with the ball at Longton as Suffolk were bundled out for 121.
Peter Wilshaw's unbeaten 45 put the seal on a seven-wicket win to continue Staffs' quest for a first piece of silverware since their Championship success in 1998.
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And Goodwin, who led the side to the one-day final three years ago, believes they possess all the ingredients to emulate that achievement.
"This performance showed what we're capable of. When we are all pulling together we are as good as any side around, without a shadow of a doubt," said the 34-year-old.
"We have a home draw in the semi-finals and have the belief we can go on and win the competition.
"Every season you hope to be challenging in both the one and three-day formats. Hopefully, this can be our year."
Wicketkeeper Goodwin, who claimed four victims in the match, says he never dared dream yesterday's victory would be so routine.
"The game went perfectly. Winning the toss was crucial because we know that Longton seams around a bit early on and then flattens out," he added.
"The bowlers, as a unit, are just so consistent. They put the ball in the right areas and strangled Suffolk.
"We built up the pressure and they needed a release valve, which forced them to play some shots they probably shouldn't have.
"That's what happens when you're playing good cricket."
An opening stand of 35 between James Campbell and Craig Spearman set Staffs on their way – one of two partnerships Goodwin acknowledged were key to the successful run chase.
"We equipped ourselves well with the bat. Getting to 35 without losing a wicket gave us the start we needed," he explained.
"Suffolk were looking at Tymal Mills (Essex and England Lions seamer) to get among us early on and have us 15-3 or 20-4.
"And Dave Wheeldon and Peter Wilshaw's stand shouldn't be under-estimated either."