Challenges keep coming for trophy-winner Franks

Nottinghamshire's Paul Franks bowls during the LV= County Championship match at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date should read: Saturday April 21, 2012. See PA story CRICKET Nottinghamshire. Photo credit should read: Simon Cooper/PA Wire

Nottinghamshire's Paul Franks bowls during the LV= County Championship match at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date should read: Saturday April 21, 2012. See PA story CRICKET Nottinghamshire. Photo credit should read: Simon Cooper/PA Wire

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As thousands of delighted fans gathered on the outfield to chant ‘Nottingham, Nottingham’, a contented Paul Franks watched on from the Lord’s balcony with a satisfied smile.

No-one was more proud than the long-serving, homegrown all-rounder to see Nottinghamshire CCC end their long wait for a one-day knock-out trophy win at the home of cricket.

09-0977-3''Fransfield, new Premier League facilities at Farnsfield Cricket Club. Club Captain Paul Franks and Chairman Brendon Doherty are pictured on Saturday outside the new pavillion.

09-0977-3''Fransfield, new Premier League facilities at Farnsfield Cricket Club. Club Captain Paul Franks and Chairman Brendon Doherty are pictured on Saturday outside the new pavillion.

For 24 long years, the green and golds had endeavoured to repeat their 1989 Benson and Hedges final victory over Essex, secured by Eddie Hemmings’ dramatic last-ball boundary.

But that toil - including plenty of hard yards from Franks himself - had been in vain. There were near misses, yes, but, as they say, no cigar.

All that changed, however, in September when Nottinghamshire crowned a brilliant 40-over season by clinching the Yorkshire Bank 40 Trophy with an emphatic 87-run triumph over Glamorgan.

For Sutton-in-Ashfield-born Franks, there was the slight disappointment that he had not been part of the winning line-up for such a momentous achievement, especially since he has been a cornerstone of the county’s one-day attack for well over a decade - and gained England recognition in the process.

Nottinghamshire's Paul Franks bats during an LV= County Championship match at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 22, 2011. Photo credit should read: Rui Vieira/PA Wire.

Nottinghamshire's Paul Franks bats during an LV= County Championship match at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday June 22, 2011. Photo credit should read: Rui Vieira/PA Wire.

However, he was quickly able to put such feelings to one side and still savour the day, knowing he had nevertheless played a key role in the success.

During the pre-season tour of Barbados, Franks took on the unofficial role of white ball bowling coach and quietly but effectively cajoled the best out of the seam attack throughout the remainder of a glorious campaign.

The likes of Ajmal Shahzad, Harry Gurney, Jake Ball and Steven Mullaney all benefited from the bank of knowledge and experience that the 35-year-old has built up during an 18-year stay at Trent Bridge, while he also teamed up with skipper Chris Read and director of cricket Mick Newell to devise a bowling strategy that ultimately proved so successful.

“Just like as a player, you are never the finished article as a coach and I still have much to learn, but it’s something I’m enjoying and want to make a career out of - I’ve got a lot of years left to work after I’ve finished playing,” said Franks.

“Of course, in an ideal world that would be at Notts and if I got that opportunity, it would be one I would love to exploit, but in the meantime I’ve been very thankful for the way the club have been helping me out.

“Watching the fans singing after we had won the YB 40 made me immensely proud and it is something that will live with me for a long time.

“To play a part, even if it was a small one, was terrific. Implementing plans and putting them into place, getting involved in the drills and sharing some ideas.. it’s great to see it all come to fruition.

“The thing is that there is still a whole lot more that can be done with the bowlers. It was important to keep it straightforward at first, but we can still get even better.

“All the bowlers put in at least one match-winning performance over the course of the season.”

The coaching side of things has become increasingly important - and interesting - to Franks ever since he suffered a serious knee injury back in the early noughties.

He is currently taking his ECB level four coaching qualification and as well as coaching the academy at Notts, he has already also helped out at his own club Farnsfield and overseas in Australia and Zimbabwe.

As Franks has progressed from a young upstart fresh onto the scene to seasoned professional, one common thread throughout that time has been Newell, himself a former Notts first-teamer.

The director of cricket was coach to the county colts side when Franks was a teenager and the two still share a strong bond now, even if they have their disagreements at times.

Franks said: “Mick’s still here and so am I, but both of us have changed and developed.

“He was always a tough task master when I was coming through, but he understood me and knew how to drive me on.

“It’s been great to watch him go from strength to strength at the helm of the club and one of his biggest strengths is that he has done it his own way.

“There have been times when we have fallen out and argued, but I have never lost respect for him because he is passionate about the game.

“There are things I can take from him into my own coaching, but, at the same time, you also have to be your own person and have your own style.”

But for all his progress as a coach, Franks remains adamant he still has a role to play out in the middle.

Although happy to admit he is never going to make the same impact as in years gone by, he is still contracted until the end of 2014 and wants to make an impact in four-day cricket during that time.

“I have always said I can achieve what I want achieve right here and that is still the case,” said Franks. “I have got a year to run and I have been back in training working as hard as ever - you have to work a bit harder than the younger ones - to make sure I have the strength and fitness to compete for a place in the side.

“Like last year, I know I’m unlikely to play white ball cricket but I’d still like to play as often as I can in County Championship cricket and I’ll be concentrating predominantly on that.”

Growing up two streets away from Farnsfield CC’s Station Lane home, it’s hardly surprising that Franks has never lost the desire to see his local club thrive.

And whether or not he is able to be in the thick of it as a player, he is convinced they are well placed to do well - whatever division they may be in.

“With my dad playing and being groundsman there, I got the bug from a young age and that love for the club has never left me - I view them as my club,” said Franks.

“The romantic story would be for me to go back and play a lot more games and helped them to promotion, but it depends on my coaching commitments.

“It would be a shame if some of the players left because of relegation from the Notts Premier League because if we can get through the next 12 months with the same squad still together, I can see a bright future.

“Of course, relegation is not definite yet, because of the disciplinary case involving Mansfield Hosiery Mills that could yet give us a reprieve. Either way, I remain passionate about helping develop players for our long-term success and believe I can help do that.”

And who would bet against him? Franks has been written off plenty of times before, yet invariably comes back even stronger - whatever he turns his mind to.