CHRIS Park is stepping down as captain of Bournemouth's ECB Southern Premier League side after skippering the Lions for seven of the past eight seasons.

He took on the captaincy in 2016 immediately on his return from a lengthy spell with Northampton Saints and has been a prominent player, both as a batsman and wicketkeeper, ever since.

He explained: "I turned 40 in the summer and with a baby son, Archie, I no longer can commit the time it takes to captain a Premier league club. 

"I have loved the responsibility and challenges over the last 6-7 years, getting us back in the ECB Premier Division and maintaining that over the last 3-4 years. 

"I feel the time has come for me to hand over to fresh blood with enthusiasm and energy to take the club forwards again. 

"The young squad we have at Chapel Gate is capable of kicking on again and looking upwards in the table. The young players being 1-2 years older will improve together I’m sure." 

Park, a regular for Dorset for many seasons in his prime, has no intention of retiring and hanging his boots up.

He added: "Young Ben Rogers has succeeded me and is doing a fine job behind the stumps, but I will be available for selection hopefully as much I can, although time with the family is very much needed also. 

"If it’s not the first team, I look forward to helping our seconds achieve a much needed promotion out of the Hampshire League."

Lions cricket manager Jon Clutterbuck said: "Parky has been a fantastic captain for Bournemouth, totally rebuilding the side, gaining promotion, and then, in the last couple of seasons, overseeing the emergence of an exciting young cohort of players at the club. 

"There's some big boots to fill, but we're confident his successor will prove equally capable."

Bournemouth plan to announce Park's successor in the new year.