SCHOFIELD RELISHING CHESHIRE CHALLENGE

By Neil Goulding

FORMER England and Lancashire all-rounder Chris Schofield is relishing playing for Cheshire, the Minor Counties' side who he signed for on Monday.

Schofield won £7,000 for unfair dismissal after a lengthy tribunal with Lancashire last week, having spent seven successful years on the staff.

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

"I'd heard Cheshire were interested in me so I pursued the avenue," revealed Schofield.

"I'm just looking forward to playing as much as I can. I couldn't do anything while I was involved with this tribunal with Lancashire, but I'm just hoping to put that behind me and play cricket.

"Cheshire have some good players and I've heard lots of positive things about the county. I want to play a good standard of cricket and then hopefully one day get back into the first-class frame.

Cheshire chairman Gerry Hardstaff is delighted with his new signing and believes Schofield will have plenty of success in the Minor Counties' Championship Western Division.

"Chris contacted me and said he wanted to play," said 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 Western Division matches.

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

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

Schofield is playing as an amateur for Littleborough Cricket Club this season, but although his club team do play on Sundays in cup matches, there will be no conflict of interest with many of Cheshire's matches which also start on Sundays and run for three days.


"Littleborough has been quite understanding with me and support me in what I
do," added Schofield. "I just need to get some overs under my belt this season and hopefully a few runs as well.

"I don't know many of the Cheshire lads apart from the ex-first-class players, which makes for a good side. I'm sure we can do well and that's all I want to do. I'm going to be playing for a few second XI's and you never know, one day I might play for England again.

"I'd certainly like to play for England again but that's a long way down the line at the moment."

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.

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

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

But over the last few years Schofield has had limited opportunities in Lancashire's first team, although he has scored over 2000 first-class runs.


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