HASEEB Hameed’s loss of form is an “utter mystery” to Lancashire, according to their cricket director Paul Allott.

The Bolton-born opener has not scored a first-class century in a little more than two years and has averaged just 9.7 in 17 County Championship innings this season.

It is a far cry from the halcyon summer of 2016 when, aged 19, the former Farnworth Social Circle star topped 1,000 runs in Division One, broke records galore and impressed as an England Test opener on a winter tour of India prior to a finger injury.

Hameed’s nosedive in form is one of many reasons why the Red Rose county have been relegated from a top division which many pundits tipped them to win.

On the other side of the coin, Allott has reserved praise for Hameed’s ex-Social Circle team-mate Josh Bohannon, whose first five Championship games at the end of the summer have yielded 255 runs with two fifties and five wickets with his brisk seamers.

“Haseeb Hameed is a dilemma for us,” said Allott.

“We’ve given him more opportunity probably than he deserved all through the summer.

“But, having said that, I’ve not seen a more talented young opening batsman in my 40 odd years in the game.

“The way he played in 2016 and then went to India and opened the batting for England, he was everybody’s choice as the next Alastair Cook. He was the right-handed Alastair Cook and his successor.

“Where his form and function have gone and disappeared to is a complete and utter mystery.

“I’m obviously very keen to see him rejuvenate himself and find his form again.”

While praising 21-year-old all-rounder Bohannon, Allott blamed Lancashire’s batting woes for their relegation.

They finished level on points with third-bottom Nottinghamshire, but have gone down having won one match fewer.

“There is no way we should be finishing in the bottom two,” said Allott, new in post within the last 12 months.

“We haven’t scored enough runs, simply.

“Our bowling has been pretty good. We have two of the leading wicket-takers in the country - seam bowlers in Tom Bailey and Graham Onions.

“But there have been too many times during the season where we’ve had bad hours. Not bad sessions, but bad hours with the bat. And it’s cost us dearly.

“We should be a top side challenging for the title in County Championship cricket, and we should be doing that on an annual basis.

“What we’ve had this year is a combination of a collective loss of form with the bat, some injuries and Test calls. They’re not excuses, I’m just stating what happened.

“What you then need to do is slot in your next group of young players, Josh Bohannon and Rob Jones, who will come into the side and hopefully succeed. Danny Lamb’s another.

“But you cannot click your fingers and give these lads experience and expect them to be at peak first-class performance levels collectively in their early games.

“You will see bits of it like we have with Josh Bohannon. It has been a really encouraging start to his first-class career.”