Alex Davies endured a season he would rather forget in 2016, with a knee injury severely limiting his time on the field. But 2017 was one he could not forget as his exceptional form in four-day cricket secured him an England Lions berth.
Let’s get 2016 out of the way first.
The combative wicketkeeper-batsman was ruled out of action from late May, forcing Ashley Giles to mix and match his glovemen for the rest of the campaign.
It was a real shame for Davies, who had cemented his place in Lancashire’s sides during an impressive 2015.
Even when Jos Buttler returned from England duty to take the gloves, the Red Rose Academy graduate retained his place as a batsman.
Davies hit scores of 89 and 99 in the County Championship as he searched for his maiden first-class century.
And he was also awarded man-of-the-match for his display opening the batting in the NatWest T20 Blast final against Northamptonshire as Lancashire lifted the trophy for the first time in the club’s history, hitting 47 off 26 balls in a winning total of 166-7.
In 2017, back to full fitness, he was elevated to open the batting, and in the first game of the season against Essex at Chelmsford, he scored a brilliant unbeaten 140 in the second innings of a draw the Red Rose dominated.
He did not look back. But more of that later.
Davies learnt his game at Darwen, and he has played for Lancashire at every age level.
He made his first-team debut in a 40-over game against Glamorgan in 2011 two days before his 17th birthday, becoming Lancashire’s youngest ever one-day player in the process.
He then made his first-class debut against Surrey at Liverpool at the end of the 2012 Championship season.
He joined the Lancashire Academy at the end of 2010 before being awarded a joint Academy/Scholarship contract for 2012.
Davies signed as a professional ahead of the 2013 summer. He played the latter stages of that season as the club’s hierarchy made the decision to dispense with regular keeper Gareth Cross.
Lancashire signed England limited overs wicketkeeper Buttler ahead of the 2014, and they made no secret of their plan to give him first crack with the gloves.
But, with Buttler’s graduation through to Test cricket during that summer, there were plenty of opportunity for Davies in all forms of the games.
2016 threatened to derail the former England Under 19s keeper’s promising career, but he was about to come back stronger than ever.
He hit three centuries and as many fifties in a haul of 916 Championship runs, the best in Lancashire’s squad. He also claimed 48 dismissals behind the stumps, the third best haul in Division One.
Going back to his batting, Davies posted 1,046 first-class runs during the summer, becoming the first wicketkeeper in Lancashire history to achieve that feat.
He was also capped during the final game of the season against Surrey before earning a Lions call-up for their winter training camp in Australia alongside county colleagues Keaton Jennings, Liam Livingstone and Saqib Mahmood.
The only frustration in 2017 was that a decision was taken by the club’s coaching and medicals teams to leave him out of the T20 Blast campaign in order to manage his long-term recovery from the knee injury.
Off the field, his partner is England women’s left-arm spinner Alexandra Hartley, who also hails from Darwen.