Ben Raine is to leave Leicestershire for Durham at the end of the season.
Raine, a seam-bowling allrounder who had been the subject of interest from Warwickshire among other clubs, started his career at Durham but left in search of greater opportunity in 2013. He has subsequently developed into a fine bowler – he is Leicestershire’s top wicket-taker in the 2018 Championship season with 45 at 22.75 apiece – and a more than useful lower-order batsman who recently thrashed a maiden T20 century.
While Raine was not out of contract until the end of 2019 – he had also been offered a contract extension that would have secured his future at Leicestershire until the end of 2020 – there was an understanding with the club that he could leave in some circumstances.
It is understood that, in recent weeks, Raine has explained to the club he would like to return to his native north-east for personal reasons and Leicestershire have agreed to release him. He is expected to remain available for selection for the rest of the season as the club pursue their outside promotion hopes.
“We are hugely disappointed to lose Rainey as his commitment and performances over the years have been immense,” Leicestershire head coach Paul Nixon said. “The club gave Ben his county cap earlier this season because he embodies exactly what it means to be a Fox.
“We made Ben a very good offer to stay, because he has been a key member of the squad and we dearly wanted him to continue his career with us. But the club understands that due to his personal circumstances changing, he wants to return and be closer to his family at his home near Durham.
“We know that he remains committed to supporting our push for promotion over the next four matches. Everyone at the club wishes Ben well with his new start at Durham.”
Raine’s return provides quite a boost to Durham’s attempts to rebuild after a couple of challenging years and might reflect their improving financial position. Born in Sunderland, he fits the bill as the club try to build a culture of locally-developed players while aged 26, he should still have the best years of his career ahead of him. He retains England ambitions though he may, from a county perspective, turn out to be that almost ideal acquisition: a talented, ambitions all-rounder who might not quite be good enough to sustain a long-term place in the international game.
“The decision to move away from Grace Road was a tough one,” Raine said. “But the opportunity to move back north, to be around family and friends and to play for the club I grew up supporting, was too good to miss.
“The last six years at Leicester have been incredible. They took a gamble on me, invested time and effort into my game and life, and I will always be grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given by the club.”
Leicestershire are also fighting to keep Zak Chappell, the fast bowling allrounder who has attracted interest from several of the biggest clubs, while their dispute with former captain Michael Carberry drags on. Carberry walked out in the club after he was sacked as captain a few weeks into the season. It seems more likely Chappell has a future at the club than Carberry.