Double signing will boost Norfolk ranks

Ben France will play for Norfolk next season.

Ben France will play for Norfolk next season.

New Norfolk captain Chris Brown has bolstered his squad for next season with the addition of two new signings.

All-rounder Ben France has joined the county after leaving Suffolk, and seam bowler Dominic Reed, who played for Cambridgeshire last season, has also agreed to play.

Brown, who has taken over the captaincy from George Walker, said the duo would add vital strength to the Norfolk side: 'Ben is a dangerous cricketer and our players know what he can do from playing against him in the league, where he has played for Bury St Edmunds and now for Clacton,' he said.

'When he got in touch with us about playing we knew he was simply too good a player to turn down. He's a very good batsman, particularly in the one-day format and he bowls more than useful medium pace.

'He's a genuine all-rounder and a destructive batsman. He fancied a change as he's been at Suffolk for a long time and it will be a fresh challenge for him.'

France, 30, played 11 First Class matches for Derbyshire in 2004 and 2005, hitting two half-centuries and taking one wicket. He averaged 39 with the bat for Suffolk in the Minor Counties Championship last summer and took four wickets.

He will help fill the void left by the retirement of veteran opener Carl Rogers and Brown added: 'With Carl stepping down, in a way we are replacing one experienced batsman with another, and Ben could potentially open the batting for us.'

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Reed, 22, played alongside Brown in the Unicorns A team last summer, as well as featuring for Cambridgeshire in the MCCA Knockout Trophy.

With Michael Warnes set to miss part of the season with work commitments, Norfolk's seam bowling resources were likely to be stretched this year and Brown said: 'There has not been a massive option of seam bowlers in the county for the last few years and that's one area where we have fallen short.

'Michael Eccles performed really well for us last year and it will be nice to have someone to support him at the other end.'

While the recruitment of two players from outside the county may concern some who prefer to see homegrown players in the Norfolk side, Brown was keen to point out that the policy of offering opportunities to local players who perform well in the league had not changed: 'Both of these players contacted me to ask about playing for Norfolk and that only happens once in a blue moon, we did not actively pursue them,' he said. 'I spoke to the committee and they are quite happy with it.

'If we had turned them down, someone else would have benefited from them.'

Norfolk play two pre-season friendlies on the weekend of April 13 and 14 against MCC Young Cricketers and Essex II, before the Trophy campaign kicks off the following weekend with a trip to Devizes to play Wiltshire.

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