Chris Schofield has been released by Lancashire. Schofield, a legspinner, made his debut for his native county in 1998, and picked up ten wickets in two matches. Schofield, 25, played two Tests against Zimbabwe in 2000, and was one of the first batch of players who were centrally contracted to the ECB. But his accuracy and consistency have let him down since - to the extent that he rarely bowled for Lancashire in 2004.
"Chris is an extremely talented cricketer who has perhaps not reached his full potential at the club," said Mike Watkinson, Lancashire's manager. "We feel it is an appropriate stage in his career for him to seek pastures new and play more regular first team cricket."
Jamie Haynes, the reserve wicketkeeper, has also been given his marching orders as Lancashire reshuffle their pack following relegation from the first division of the Championship. Haynes, described by Watkinson as "a tremendous servant", will be replaced by a new signing in 20-year-old Gareth Cross. Cross, who bats in the middle order, made his debut for Lancashire 2nd XI during 2002, and played league cricket in Melbourne last winter.
Three other players, all of them allrounders, have been brought in: Steven Croft, Andrew Crook and Simon Marshall. Croft, 19, is a graduate of the Lancashire Cricket Academy. He played for Blackpool CC and Lancashire 2nd XI this season. Crook, an offspinner, will join his brother Steven at Lancashire. Andrew, 23, stepped up from the 2nd XI twice in 2004 to play for the first team.
Marshall, 22, offers another legspinning option following Schofield's departure. He joins the full-time staff after an outstanding season with Lancashire's 2nd XI. He took 9 for 47 against Nottinghamshire in July, the second-best figures by a Lancashire bowler in the 2nd XI Championship.
Warren Hegg has agreed a new contract for 2005, although it hasn't yet been decided whether he will continue as captain. Tim Rees, Paul Horton and Oliver Newby have all agreed new contracts. Horton and Newby joined Lancashire at the end of 2003, while Rees signed in 2002.