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Church won't have Mail next summer

CRICKET: AUSTRALIAN big-hitter Greg Mail will not be returning to Lancashire League side Church next season.

AUSTRALIAN big-hitter Greg Mail will not be returning to Lancashire League side Church next season.

It is a bitter blow to the club who were hoping the New South Wales star would continue his form from last summer and help them challenge for the league title. However, the 25-year-old let skipper Phil Sykes and chairman Don Holt know by e-mail on Wednesday that he would not be returning to England to play cricket.

He notched up 954 runs in the league last summer - including four centuries - but missed the last eight games as he had to return home for treatment to a back injury which had hindered him. He was on course to break the club record of 1250 set by Geoff Parker in 1990.

"It is a big blow to us," said Church's League representative Jack Houldsworth. "He said he was only 80 per cent fit and he was cautious because of the degree of bowling he would have to do if he came back. He knew he would have to be careful.

"And, if he missed the first two games for New South Wales, he might never get back in the team as the competition is so great. He was the best batsman I have seen at the club. He did thank us for all we had done for him while he has been here and hasn't ruled out returning to Church in the future."

It makes it a tough winter for Church who now join in with almost all the other Lancashire League clubs in searching for a new professional. And with work permit rules and 12 month contracts, it has made it even harder for clubs to attract the paid men over to England.

"We have no irons in the fire as we were in talks with Greg but now we will have to start looking," said Houldsworth. "There are a lot more obstacles to getting a professional now but we will be having a meeting to decide where we go from here."


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