By Neil Goulding

FORMER England and Lancashire all-rounder Chris Schofield has signed for Cheshire.

Schofield won £7,000 in a tribunal last week, having been released by Lancashire after seven years on the staff.

But the former international wants to get back into first class cricket as soon as possible - and believes Cheshire is the best starting block.

"Chris contacted me and said he wanted to play," revealed Cheshire Chairman of Cricket Gerry Hardstaff.

"We've been keeping tabs on him for quite a while and I've met with him and I know he's looking forward to playing.

"He wants to get back playing first team cricket as soon as possible. Chris is a great signing for us."

Schofield is expected to make his debut against Herefordshire at Luctonians Cricket Club next month in the first of his new county's Minor Counties Championship Western Division matches.

Schofield was well-liked by the Lancashire faithful and also starred for England on brief appearances.

But a falling out with the Red Rose county meant the talented leg-spinner and left handed bat had to search for pastures new.

"Chris is playing amateur cricket for Littleborough Cricket Club and he's doing well for them," added Hardstaff.

"He's proven that he can score runs and take wickets. We could never have turned down an ex-England player. Chris' arrival is a big boost for the team."

Cheshire have lost former Nottinghamshire and Staffordshire batsman Graeme Archer this season due to work commitments and also former Hampshire all-rounder Simon Renshaw.

But Schofield's signature and the new signing of ex-Lancashire batsman Mark Currie and former Derbyshire duo Nathan Dumelow and Steve Selwood give the county a solid base on which to build success this season.

Former Cheshire all-rounder Simon Marshall has joined Lancashire this season, having figured for Hardstaff's team briefly last term.

"We've lost Graeme and Simon, so to sign Chris and Mark, who are good friends, is great news for the county," said Hardstaff.

"We're looking forward to both players doing well for us. It's a new start for both of them."

Schofield made his England Test debut at Lords in 2000 and scored a half-century in his second Test at Trent Bridge.

But over the last few years Schofield had limited opportunities with Lancashire first team, although he has scored over 2,000 first class runs with a top score of 99.

Lancashire manager Mike Watkinson said: "Chris is an extremely talented cricketer who has perhaps not reached his full potential at the club.

"We feel it is an appropriate stage of his career for him to seek more regular first-team cricket."

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