Preston seamer Tom Bailey was left with mixed emotions after Lancashire’s relegation from Division One of the County Championship.
The Red Rose were demoted after a disappointing four-day campaign despite winning their final game of the summer against Hampshire.
Glen Chapple’s men dropping down a division was widely expected, going into the game at the Ageas Bowl but Lancashire came agonisingly close to an unlikely escape.
An extra 27 first innings’ runs would have seen them reach 300 and pick up an extra batting point.
That would have been enough to overhaul Nottinghamshire, who were well beaten by Somerset in the final round of fixtures.
“To tie with Notts on points is gutting especially as we were just 27 runs away from another batting point,” said Bailey.
“But if we are being honest we haven’t played the cricket we would have liked to have played throughout the season.
“With the way we have batted this season we have deserve to go down, but it feels like a one-off season.
“We have some strong batting, as we proved against Hampshire.”
On a personal level, it was a season to remember for the former Vernon Carus and Myerscough College bowler.
The 27-year-old ended the campaign as the leading wicket-taker in Division One, eight in the match against Hampshire seeing him finish on 64.
It is the most by a Lancashire bowler since spinner Gary Keedy took 72 back in 2004 and an excellent return for a player who was simply looking to cement his place in the first XI in 2018.
“I have been very proud of my efforts this season,” said Bailey, who had finished with 26 wickets when Lancashire finished as runners-up in Division One 12 months ago.
“I have enjoyed my first full season at the club.
“I’ve always known that I had it in me but never managed a full season. I always expected it from myself. Hopefully I can do the same next year but also win a trophy.”
Many observers expected Bailey, who signed a new contract with the county until 2019 ahead of the season, to be in the mind of international selectors for the winter tours after a breakthrough few months.
But he has missed out on a spot on the England Lions tour to face Pakistan A in Abu Dhabi in November and December.
Lancashire captain Liam Livingstone and leg spinner Matt Parkinson have been selected for both the four-day game and the 50-over and T20 matches, while Red Rose wicketkeeper Alex Davies and seamer Saqib Mahmood will join up with the party for the just the white-ball leg of the tour.