FORMER Royton cricketer Luke Procter has signed a three-year deal with Northamptonshire.
The 29-year-old Oldhamer has spent the last nine years as a professional at Lancashire, but has moved to get more opportunities to play first-class cricket.
Procter, who joined Lancashire aged 13, said: “It was a massive decision to leave Lancashire as I still had one year left on my contract.
“I was not getting the games I wanted so had to look elsewhere. Northants wanted a batsman and they welcomed me so it is good for both parties.”
Procter, who was raised in Derker and Royton, continued: “I’m really excited to have the opportunity to play for a county like Northamptonshire.
“They really impressed me at the end of last season while I was on loan, and the lads have made me feel really welcome and part of the team.
“I’m eager to impress moving forward so I’m excited to join up with them all this winter, put in some hard work and begin the next chapter of my career.
“A lot has been mentioned about my nine years at Lancashire, but it is in fact 16 as I joined them as a 13-year-old.
“I would like to thank Lancashire and the supporters for the past nine years. I’ve had an incredible time and made some great friends.”
Procter, a former pupil at Counthill School (now Waterhead Academy), says that helping Lancashire win their first county championship for 77 years was without question the highlight of his time at Old Trafford.
Procter, who began his playing days at Oldham Cricket Club aged six and later had a spell at Royton, graduated from Lancashire’s Academy.
He earned his first contract in 2010 and made his mark during that memorable summer for the Red Rose – not least with a knock of 89 against Sussex which included five sixes off Monty Panesar.
He brings to Northants the experience of playing in a Championship-winning side. He topped the batting averages for Lancashire when they claimed the title in 2011, the season after making the first of his 66 first-class appearances for the club.
He enjoyed the most prolific season of his career in 2016, scoring 822 runs with a career-best 137 off Hampshire’s attack, but found opportunities limited last season and joined Northants on loan.
He shone with 82 and 94 in the County’s final Championship match against Leicestershire at Grace Road and has subsequently signed for Northamptonshire to open a fresh chapter in his career.
Northamptonshire’s head coach, David Ripley, added: “We really wanted to sign a batter that can bat time and build partnerships in red ball cricket.
“Luke showed in his time with us at the end of the season that he can do that job, averaging 58 and making three fifties.
“I am delighted he is joining us. He could have stayed in the squad at Lancs but he is hungry to play more cricket and is willing to move to get the opportunity.
“He is a more than handy fourth seamer, too, and his arrival will really sharpen the competition in the squad for starting places.
“I’d like to thank Glen Chapple and Lancashire for their co-operation”.
Procter, who is spending the winter studying for NVQ levels two and three in plumbing, made 3,708 runs for Lancashire in all forms of cricket and claimed 96 wickets, including two five-wicket hauls.