Tom Bailey proved that he can be an integral part of Lancashire’s seam bowling attack in the years to come by nearly helping them to avoid LV= County Championship relegation in 2014.
Bailey, aged 23, was given his chance in the Royal London one-day Cup in August, and he took seven wickets in four matches, including a wicket on debut at Essex with his sixth ball and three wickets against Derbyshire.
He was subsequently given a chance in the Championship team, although he had debuted in a dead rubber against Surrey at the end of the 2012 season when there was nothing but pride at stake.
The right-armer took six wickets in three matches against Durham, Yorkshire and Middlesex, taking 2-36 and 1-46 in the latter fixture which Lancashire could only draw as they were relegated for the second time in three seasons.
Bailey also demonstrated his ability as a useful tail-end batsman with 25 not out in the match against Yorkshire at Emirates Old Trafford and 13 not out against Middlesex when Lancashire were chasing crucial bonus points.
He shared an unbroken ninth-wicket stand of 31 with his captain Glen Chapple to get a third batting point to keep their hopes of victory and avoiding the drop alive. It was one of the most dramatic passages of play in recent memory at Old Trafford.
Preston-born Bailey, it is fair to say, has been somewhat of a late bloomer.
He started out in the game at home club Vernon Carus as an 11-year-old and did not play age-group cricket for Lancashire until Under 19s level. He has won trophies with the Red Rose at second-team level.
Bailey, whose league club is now Central Lancashire League side Norden, was selected onto Lancashire’s Academy in 2011 and spent the next three years on their Scholarship programme.
With Kyle Hogg having to retire with a severe back injury, and Chapple urging the club’s young players to keep him out of the side now that he has taken on more coaching duties under new head coach and cricket director Ashley Giles, Bailey knows there is a big chance for him in 2015.
Tom Bailey prepared for the 2015 season with a winter playing grade cricket in Melbourne and had another impressive season in all competitions for Lancashire. His highlight included his best figures for the Red Rose, taking 5/12 as Lancashire blew away Leicestershire at Grace Road and was a constant feature as the side won the NatWest T20 Blast for the first time.