By Nick Garnham
Monday, December 31, 2012
ALL-ROUNDER Ben France has played his last game for Suffolk.
The 30-year-old has asked to be de-registered, allowing him to play for another Minor County.
France, who made his debut in 2003, featured in 45 Minor Counties matches for Suffolk, either side of a two-year spell at Derbyshire following a prolific season in 2004. However, he played just 11 first-class matches before being released and returning to Suffolk, who he helped lift the Minor Counties KO Trophy at Lord’s in 2007, the highlight of his career with the county.
France scored 2,700 runs for Suffolk at an average of 39.13, with a highest score of 179 not out. He also captured 59 wickets at an average of 30.79.
France, who is cricket professional at Framlingham College, said: “I just feel the Suffolk regime at this moment in time doesn’t fit in with what I am trying to achieve.
“Suffolk struggled with the average age limit (counties are financially penalised for not fielding a team with an average age of under 26) and I am in the age category the wrong side of that.
“I feel I have another four or five years left yet and I hope to carry on playing. I have had a few enquiries already, but nothing has been decided about my future.”
France, who will continue to play for Clacton in the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League, also paid tribute to former coach Andy Brown and ex-director of cricket Kevin Brooks, for the professional way they ran the side and their role in him earning a first-class contract with Derbyshire.
Meanwhile, Suffolk skipper Justin Bishop said of France’s departure: “Ben was disappointed to be left out for a one-day game at Staffordshire last year, but whether that has played on his mind I don’t know.
“We will miss both his batting and bowling because he is a good all-round cricketer. He has devoted a lot of time to playing for Suffolk and he will be a big loss.
“Ben’s leaving means we will be looking to strengthen in the seam department, but good seamers are like gold dust.”
Meanwhile, Ex-Yorkshire wicket-keeper and batsman Simon Guy is to be more heavily involved with Suffolk next season, although his role has not yet been defined.
Guy featured in one championship and two one-day matches for Suffolk last season.
Bishop, who confirmed he is to continue as captain next season, said: “It was always going to be the case that Simon Guy was going to come in, although we are undecided as yet what his role will be.
“He was not available to play regularly last season, but he got involved with the coaching and the warm-ups when he did. He is going to be around next season to help out and he wants to play as well.”