Lancashire are staring down the barrel at almost certain relegation, and are now surely preparing for their second demotion in three years.
The Old Trafford outfit have endured a torrid season, much of which has been spent in their current spot of eighth place, above only Northamptonshire, who were relegated last week having not yet won a single game.
Lancashire’s record is marginally better, but with just three wins, six draws, and six defeats, it is perhaps unsurprising that they are now hovering perilously above the trap door leading to Division Two.
Though relegation is yet to be confirmed, if they were to avoid it, they needed a positive result against Sussex, something they failed to deliver.
England all-rounder Chris Jordan starred for the hosts with 4-82, while rain also played its part in giving Sussex a reduced target.
However, Lancashire once again failed to make the most of their opportunities. Having gone down by seven wickets at Hove, they are now exactly 12 points behind Middlesex in seventh, though the two sides will face each other on the final day of the season in the ultimate battle for redemption.
In a sense, Lancashire’s season must face scrutiny regardless of its eventual outcome.
The glamour of the inaugural Natwest T20 Blast may well have taken its toll on their County Championship season.
While they reached the final, they lost out to the Birmingham Bears, essentially meaning that nothing came of it, bar the excitement of bright lights and the sight of returning hero Andrew Flintoff.
Lancashire fans may not appreciate an unwelcome comparison with their Roses rivals Yorkshire, but the champions have set an example to all since winning promotion two years ago.
Both the Red and White Rose have been on the end of humbling relegations in their recent history, and both stormed straight back to the top tier at the first time of asking.
Under the leadership of former Australia bowler Jason Gillespie – who is already being tipped as a possible future England coach – Yorkshire have become an exemplary side in a very short space of time.
Consistency has been key to that, with the vast majority of their squad coming through their academy.
Lancashire, of course, have undergone something of a transitional period, losing former head coach Peter Moores to England for the second time.
Glen Chapple is set to stay at the helm next season as they look to bounce back, but admitted to The Telegraph after the Sussex game: “We’re playing good cricket but we’ve made mistakes this season and it has cost us.”
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