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Rishton star’s county call

A whirlwind few weeks for Rishton professional James Franklin has ended with the offer of a county contract.

IN ACTION... James Franklin.
IN ACTION... James Franklin.

A WHIRLWIND few weeks for Rishton professional James Franklin has ended with the offer of a county contract.

From playing in the Lancashire League, the 23-year-old received an emergency Test call up to the New Zealand side, following injuries, for the Third Test against England last week.

He impressed and was then selected for the New Zealand one-day side to face England and the West Indies in the Nat West Series, starting next week.

And he is now on a high after being offered a short-term contract by Gloucester to play county cricket this summer although the final terms have yet to be agreed.

Rishton are demanding compensation as they will lose a pro who has helped transform the side which finished bottom last season - although, with the short-term deal, he could be back for the last six games of the season.

"We are still in negotiations," said Rishton chairman Rod Simpson. "We are disappointed to lose James but obviously we can't stand in the way of a young player's progress."

Franklin was making an impact for the Blackburn Road side and, by the end of the first innings of the Third Test, he was winning rave reviews from English players and commentators alike after taking seven wickets altogether at Trent Bridge.

He has been there before - with two Tests and 24 one-day internationals on his CV - but he rose to prominence in England thanks to his heroics in the Test despite England sealing a four wicket win and making it a whitewash, winning the series 3-0.

"It is pretty exciting for me," said Franklin. "I did have a pretty good season back home and when I came over to Rishton, I knew that if something happened with the New Zealand squad, if there were a couple of injuries, then I may get an opportunity. Fortunately, I got my chance."

From claiming scalps in the Lancashire League, he starred with the ball dismissing Marcus Trescothick, Mark Butcher, Graham Thorpe and Matthew Hoggard in the first innings before seeing off opener Trescothick again and Geraint Jones in the second innings.

"They were all special wickets - all fun to take and I couldn't pick one," continued Franklin, who lined up alongside former Accrington pro Nathan Astle. "It was a good contest and as a sportsperson, it is good to play in front of a big crowd. It was just a shame about the result for us."

And he also did well with the bat - especially as a nightwatchman in the second innings. He made 17 and batted for an hour, facing 81 balls, hitting two fours and winning good reviews about his technique.

He admits he had everyone back home keeping an eye on his progress.

"I think my dad got up in the middle of the night to watch the game, he is a big cricket fan. And it is good to pick up the morning rags here in England and read what they have to say about you. It is all exciting."

"It is also good to be involved in the one-day squad and I have got my chance because Kyle Mills has gone home injured. It has all happened really fast."

The negative for Rishton is that they have to go on a hunt for sub-pro's and Franklin does admit he feels bad about leaving the side.

"That is the downside of it all," said the Wellington star, who texted the chairman to wish Rishton luck before the derby with Accrington last Sunday.

"They will have to find a sub pro and they are only a young team."

"We had just started to get a little bit of cohesion so I hope they can carry it on without me and go on and win a few more games and keep improving."

Rishton skipper Scott Greaves admitted it was strange to see his team-mate playing on an international stage.

"It was weird to see him playing up there but we are just all so pleased for him. We were watching him bowling on television against the best and it is odd to think that he had been playing alongside us just the week before."

"It is just fantastic for him and we are all just so pleased for him although we are disappointed to lose him."

"James has brought so much confidence to the team - he has come with a positive attitude - and we will all be keeping an eye on his progress."

Rishton will call upon last season's paid man Rob Nicol for Sunday's match against Lowerhouse. The New Zealander has been playing in the North East for Marske.

Meanwhile Accrington pro Tama Canning could also catch the eye of the New Zealand selectors after he raced to the top of the Lancashire League run scoring charts.

He hit his season-high 122 against Rishton on Sunday - taking his tally to 628 league runs and 35 league wickets for the season.

"I heard Tama had done well against Rishton," added Franklin.

"So has Peter Fulton and Andre Adams - the other New Zealanders in the Lancashire League. It is not for me to say but if they keep performing you never know."

Accrington are in the quarter-finals of the Inter League Trophy tomorrow, at home against Central Lancashire League side Littleborough.

Former Rishton pro Clinton Perren is injured so Littleborough have secured the services of former West Indian skipper Richie Richardson for the clash.


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