France left disillusioned by treatment

BEN France is looking to Suffolk to soothe the wounds he suffered during two years on the first-class cricket circuit.The 25-year-old all-rounder was shown the door by Derbyshire last autumn after spending two seasons on their books.

By Elvin King

BEN France is looking to Suffolk to soothe the wounds he suffered during two years on the first-class cricket circuit.

The 25-year-old all-rounder was shown the door by Derbyshire last autumn after spending two seasons on their books.

He has been left shaking his head at why he was released - and remains in limbo about whether he is good enough to play cricket full-time.


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“I was Derbyshire second XI player of the year in 2005 - and was then out the following year,” said a disillusioned France, who is back playing club cricket for Bury St Edmunds in the East Anglian Premier League.

“There was no rhyme or reason to it.

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“I am still in the dark why I was not given a proper chance as the reasons I was given sounded more like excuses to me.

“They said that a couple of players were ahead of me, and that I kept getting out the same way.”

It was France's good form with Suffolk in 2004 that won him a two-year contract with Derbyshire.

He made the first team the following season and scored a couple of first class half centuries.

“You could say that I burst on to the scene,” said France, whose parents live in Offton.

“But then the Twenty20 version of the game kicked-in and I was back in the seconds.

“It all went backwards from there, and in 2006 I did not make one first class appearance - despite scoring runs consistently in the second XI.

“I did all that was asked of me, but was not used. It shows what a tough life being a professional cricketer can be. There are no guarantees, and I must weigh up whether I want to look to return to the first class game or not.”

France has digs with Bury's overseas player Andrew Tweedie in the town and is working at the Victory Ground with groundsman Bobby Flack.

“This gives me the flexibility to play second XI cricket, but I have yet to make up my mind whether this is the road I want to take,” added France, who is the only person born in Brunei to become a first class cricketer.

“In many ways Suffolk are run more professionally than the second XI's of first class counties, and Suffolk are certainly the best at Minor Counties level.

“So, I still have plenty to play for and getting to Lord's for the Knock-Out Cup final in August will be a big plus.”

France, who missed out on Suffolk winning the Eastern Division of the Minor Counties in 2005, has played a big part in their unbeaten one-day start to this season that has won them a KO Cup semi-final on July 1.

He will be in the squad for the first three-day match of the year when Suffolk play Cumberland at Sedbergh School starting on Sunday.

Ben France factfile

Ben France played four first class games for Derbyshire in 2004 and seven in 2005.

He has played second XI cricket for Essex, Kent and Derbyshire.

In total he has played 11 first class games scoring 315 runs in 20 innings with an average of 15.75 and a highest score of 56.

Against Durham, opener France scored 116 in a second XI game on August 9 last year.

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