Tom Bailey, a graduate of Lancashire’s Academy and Scholarship programmes, has become a linchpin member of the club's bowling attack in County Championship cricket and a stand-in captain in the One-Day Cup.
In the 2018 Championship season, seamer Bailey - also a useful lower order batter - finished as the division’s top wicket-taker with 64 scalps in 14 matches, despite Lancashire’s unfortunate relegation.
That remains his most prolific return in a single campaign, though he did pass the 50-wicket mark in first-class cricket in 2021 (51) and then again in 2022 (52). During the latter season, the Prestonian topped the 300-wicket mark in his first-class career.
His best haul was a stunning 7-37 during the season-ending Championship win over Hampshire at Liverpool in 2021 when it oh so nearly clinched the Red Rose the title. They went top of the table, only for Warwickshire to pip them to the post with a win the following day.
In a team full of experienced, high-quality seam bowlers, Bailey’s improvements have seen him become one of the county’s go-to bowlers, one who has also gained England Lions recognition and has by no means given up on a senior Test call. Look at Australia’s Scott Boland, who debuted less than five months short of his 33rd birthday in late 2021, for example. Bailey is two years younger than his fellow seamer.
Despite making his first-class debut in the closing stages of 2012, the right-arm quick was subject to a bit-part role until a late-summer 10-wicket haul in defeat against Middlesex at Lord's in 2017 proved the catalyst for the excellence which has followed.
He claimed five wickets in each innings, finishing with match figures of 10/98.
After that 2012 debut - against Surrey in the Championship at Liverpool - he had to be patient for his next chance, which came towards the end of 2014 following an encouraging run of form in one-day cricket, taking seven wickets in four 50-over matches, including a wicket with the sixth ball of his career against Essex at Chelmsford.
After an encouraging end to that season, he was given a longer run in 2015 as Lancashire successfully claimed Championship promotion from Division Two.
He claimed a career best 5-12 as Leicestershire were bowled out for just 78 in the second innings of a landslide win at Grace Road, while he also contributed to Lancashire’s T20 Blast title success that summer.
Bailey’s 2016 campaign was heavily disrupted by a side injury, ruling him out of action for the best part of two months, but he made an impressive return in three Championship matches, taking 12 wickets.
His 5-111 against Somerset at Emirates Old Trafford included four wickets in seven balls, helping to secure a crucial draw in the successful bid to secure Division One status.
And following his encouraging end to 2017, he hit the ground running en route to becoming the top bowler in the country during 2018.
Despite only registering one five-wicket haul in the year, Bailey only went wicketless three times in an innings and was a constant menace, with his wickets costing less than 20 apiece.
Bailey may not be the name which grabs the headlines like an Anderson, Mahmood or even Wood for example, but his form has elevated him to a position where Lancashire would find it incredibly hard to replace him - as his hauls in 2021 and 2022 have proved.
It was in early 2019, on tour in India, where Bailey made a trio of England Lions’ appearances - across one-day and four-day cricket. He struck three times. In 2021, he skippered Lancashire in the Royal London Cup when Dane Vilas was called up to play in the Hundred.