COUNTY cricketer Arron Lilley believes the time was right for a change after leaving Lancashire and signing a two-year contract at Leicestershire.
The 27-year-old, who played his first cricket for the juniors at Micklehurst, hopes it will provide the opportunity to play more formats of the game.
Lilley, 27, had become frustrated by the lack of opportunities at Old Trafford because of the strength of their spinners.
Mossley-raised Lilley said: “It wasn’t through a lack of effort, but because Lancashire has the best spin department in the country.
“There were four of us (Matthew Parkinson, Simon Kerrigan, Stephen Parry and himself) who would have got a game in most other county sides.
“Lancs have a few really good youngsters and I am sure Matthew Parkinson will one day play for England.”
Lilley, who played for Lancs at ever level from U13 to first team, admitted it was a wrench moving on after 15 years at Old Trafford.
He said: “It was sad to leave as I had been at Lancashire since the age of 12, but it is a fresh start and new beginning.
“I am hoping the move will give me the chance to play more formats of the game as it has generally been T20 in recent years.”
Since signing his first pro contract aged 19, former Buckton Vale Primary and Mossley Hollins High School student Lilley has played 70 T20 matches for Lancs, 14 county matches and 12 one-day games.
Lilley says he will leave Lancashire with great memories.
The highlight was helping Lancashire win the T20 Blast in 2015 when they also finished runners-up in the county championship.
“I played a lot of cricket that year in all forms of cricket and to win silverware was a massive thing,” he explained.
Lilley scored a total of 961 runs for Lancs in all forms of cricket and claimed 93 wickets with his off-break bowling.
His top score was 63 against Derbyshire at Southport in a game when he also claimed a five-wicket haul.
He is looking forward to helping his new club try and win promotion back to the first division of the county championship.
Lilley said: “Leicestershire look a county on the up and with an exciting future ahead.
“They have won T20 competitions in the not too distant past and next year, with three counties being promoted, it will be a great chance to go up.”
He added he won’t be a stranger at Grace Road as Leicestershire captain Paul Horton is a Lancashire player and he also knows head coach Paul Nixon and his assistant John Sadler, the latter from playing against one another in the Huddersfield League.
Nixon said: “Arron will add great value to our side, he is a three-dimensional cricketer who will be valuable in all formats.
“He is a hard-hitting batsman, fine off-spinner and tremendous fielder, and we’re delighted to have him on board for the 2019 season.”
It was at Micklehurst when Lilley began his cricketing saying he was about eight years of age when he appeared for the U13s.
“I was there long before that, though, through my family connections. I was probably pushed around the ground in my pram,” he joked.
Lilley has also played for Delph for the last 10 years when he has not been needed by Lancashire. And he expects a similar arrangement with Leicestershire.
Leicestershire will begin pre-season training next month, but Lilley in hoping to play some cricket this winter as he has entered the drafts for places in T20 tournaments in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Dubai saying he hopes to be picked for at least one of them.
In previous winters, Lilley has headed Down Under to Australia to play in Sydney.
Lilley is already looking ahead for a life beyond cricket and is currently studying accountancy part time and also hopes to get an internship a couple of days each week.