CHESHIRE WANTED TO SIGN SCHOFIELD

By Neil Goulding

CHESHIRE chairman Gerry Hardstaff has revealed his county tried to sign former Lancashire all-rounder Chris Schofield, but without success.

Schofield is believed to have already played in a friendly match for Cumberland since being released at Old Trafford, but Cheshire had hoped to sign the ex-Red Rose man as a replacement for Graeme Archer, the ex-Nottinghamshire ace, who is unavailable this season because of work commitments.

"We made an enquiry for Chris and looked at the possibility of him playing for us, but it doesn't look like we can take a move any further," admitted Hardstaff.

"Chris would have been a good signing, but we've got a few more players who we want to sign."

Cheshire have also made tentative enquiries about the chance to sign former Northants batsman Jeff Cook, now playing for Kidsgrove in the North Staffordshire League, while ex-Derbyshire players Steve Selwood and Nathan Dumelow are future targets.

Batsman Selwood, 25, and 23-year-old off-spinner Dumelow are playing for Oulton Park in the Murray Smith Cheshire County League this season.

Having released professional Simon Renshaw (ex-Hampshire), Cheshire have signed Mark Currie, released by Lancashire last season, and will employ former Notts bowler Dave Pennett for another season having been their leading wicket-taker in 2004.

"We thought about asking Jeff (Cook) to play for us last year, but we are still interested in signing him for this season," added Hardstaff.

"We are going to miss Graeme Archer and having decided not to employ Simon Renshaw again as a professional, we have got to find replacements."

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CHESHIRE ROCKED BY ARCHER DEPARTURE

By Neil Goulding

CHESHIRE have been rocked by the news that their top batsman Graeme Archer will not be available to play for them this season.

The county had hoped to retain the services of the former Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire run-machine, especially after an inspired season in 2004 which yielded 434 runs at a staggering average of 108.50.

But Archer has just started a full-time job and therefore cannot commit himself to the Cheshire cause.

"It's very disappointing that Graeme won't be playing," admitted Gerry Hardstaff, Cheshire's chairman of cricket.

"If we didn't have Graeme last year I'm sure we would have struggled. He had a superb season with the bat and fitted into the team really well."

Indeed, having signed from Staffordshire last term, it didn't take Archer long to find his feet. Two magnificent centuries and two-half centuries saw the big-hitting right-hander top Cheshire's batting averages.

Archer is still registered with Cheshire, but Hardstaff doesn't hold much hope that he will feature in any of the county's matches in the Minor Counties Championship Western Division, or in the MCCA Knockout Cup either.

"Graeme said he might be able to play the odd game, but I don't hold much hope," added Hardstaff.

"It's a big loss for the county, but now we have got to find someone to replace him."

Cheshire have recruited the services of former Lancashire batsman Mark Currie who, having briefly played for the county before, will hopefully add a bit of spice to the team according to Hardstaff.

"Mark's a very good player and we hope he has a good season," he said.

"He's proven he can score runs and has gained some good experience at Lancashire. He's a young player with plenty of enthusiasm and a bright future."

Andy Hall, a former England schoolboy, will once again captain Cheshire, now in his third term of the job, while pace bowler Dave Pennett returns as one of the team's professionals.

All-rounder Simon Renshaw, another of Cheshire's professionals, has been released and will play for Staffordshire this season.

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