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Last Updated: Thursday, 3 August 2006, 09:58 GMT 10:58 UK
Schofield's fall from grace
Spinners are suddenly the talk of English cricket, with Monty Panesar performing wonders for the Test team and a clutch of youngsters bursting into the county game.

Chris Schofield bowling in the second Test against Zimbabwe in 2000
Schofield endured a frustrating time in his two Tests

It was a similar scenario six years ago when Chris Schofield was the name on everyone's lips.

He was the great leg-spin hope for England, the man who was going to do for this country what Shane Warne had done for Australia.

Well maybe not. But at the age of 21 glory beckoned for the Lancashire lad when he was handed a central contract after some impressive displays the previous winter for the A team.

Warne was among the many influential figures in the game who had spoken highly of him.

But then it all started going wrong.

After two wicketless displays in Tests against Zimbabwe in 2000 he fell off the England and Lancashire radar and by September 2004 he was out of first-class cricket, having been released by his county.

Since then he been plying his trade for Suffolk and in second XI games for the likes of Durham and Surrey, while supplementing his income by doing some painting and decorating in the winter.

"It's a bit of a reality check and frustrating because I've played at a very high level but I'm just relieved that counties are still giving me the opportunity to get a contract," the 27-year-old told BBC Five Live.

"The last two years I've been bowling a hell of a lot of overs, 30-40 a week - the last two years at Lancs I bowled 50-100 overs a season."

I'm proving a couple of people wrong with all the overs I'm bowling

Chris Schofield

Schofield believes he was harshly dealt with by country and club having been fast-tracked.

"I played the first Test against Zimbabwe at Lord's but the seamers did all the work and I didn't think I bowled too badly at Trent Bridge against Andy Flower, who was the best batter in the world then, and Murray Goodwin who made 148.

"It was disappointing I didn't get another opportunity to see how I would do at Test level abroad.

"Then the likes of Muttiah Muralitharan, Carl Hooper and Dinesh Mongia came to our club and the overs got taken away from me.

"I had to make myself a number six batter which I did but I got released and people didn't think I could bowl again because I never got the overs under my belt."

The Rochdale-born spinner says a key factor in his demise was the departure from Old Trafford of coach and former Australia leg-spinner Peter Sleep.

Chris Schofield receives his first England cap from captain Nasser Hussain at Lord's in 2000
Happier times: Schofield's debut came amid much fanfare

"There's a lot of people who have an idea about leg-spin that haven't bowled it.

"When Peter got released in 2000 my bowling slipped away from not having the guidance of a proper leg-spin bowler.

"He got me playing international cricket but wasn't around unfortunately."

When Schofield himself was shown the door by Lancs, he was stunned by the lack of interest in his services.

He remains confident, however, that he will soon find a route back into the top levels of the game and, despite his previous disappointments, still harbours international ambitions.

"It did upset me a lot, no-one was phoning me up but a lot of people hadn't seen me bowl for four years," he added.

"Now I'm proving a couple of people wrong with all the overs I'm bowling.

"Anybody who is playing cricket has to have the desire to play for England.

"The first step at the moment is to try to get a county contract, bowl the way I have been doing the last couple of months and take it from there."

Schofield tries to revive career
25 May 05 |  Counties
Schofield 'upset' by cash pay-out
12 May 05 |  Lancashire
Lancashire 'right' over Schofield
23 Apr 05 |  Lancashire
Schofield wins case against Lancs
22 Apr 05 |  Lancashire
Schofield leaves Lancashire
29 Sep 04 |  Lancashire

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