SOMERSET duo Tom Abell and Jack Leach have described the club’s Division One Great Escape as “special and surreal”.

The 231-run victory over Middlesex, which was sealed on Thursday, ensured Somerset finished the season in sixth after a difficult campaign which saw the club spend all but six days in the bottom two.

Leach, who played a key part in the revival with 24 wickets at 17.5 in September, said: “It’s surreal actually. We were probably down and out at one point, so to pull this off is really special, and to be in Division One next year is so important for the club.

“I wanted to keep bowling, Abes couldn’t get the ball out my hands, I just wanted to do my job for the team.

“Obviously with things that happened in the winter [remodelling his action] it took a bit of time to get used to things and mentally feel happy with everything.

“I’ve come through that and I feel as good as I ever have, and with what I’ve learned this season I feel like a better bowler.”

READ MORE: As it happened - Somerset secure Division One survival

Leach’s match-winning performance against Middlesex was the perfect response to being overlooked for England’s Ashes squad, and he outlined his intention to keep fighting for international recognition.

“The support has been amazing,” he said.

“The aim is to play for England, that’s the dream, and I’ll keep working hard to do that. Until then I’ll keep working for Somerset and trying to help us do well.

“It’s always a disappointment – you want to be involved, and I know I wasn’t too far away. There’s nothing I can do about it, I can just work on getting better, and when I do get that chance hopefully I’ll be even better so I’ll be ready and I can make the most of it.”

Abell, meanwhile, was delighted at his side’s turnaround after enduring a testing first season as captain.

The 23-year-old said: “It’s a very special feeling.

“We’re not at the end of the table that we’d like, but halfway through the season we had to reassess our goals, and given where we were three or four games ago it’s an amazing achievement by everyone involved to still be in Division 1.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything more as a captain – the effort has been there throughout the season, but our skills weren’t up to it at the start of the season and that put us in the position we were in.

“It’s just an overriding feeling of elation, and the best day of my cricketing career. It’s been a tough season, and we’ve really felt it in the dressing room, but to finish it the way we have is special.”

The captain, like Leach, went on to hail the Somerset supporters for their role in the side’s survival bid.

“We’ve really felt the support [of the fans], especially when we were down at the bottom and not playing well,” he said.

“Speaking to people around the ground and seeing the messages, people are right behind you and not giving up hope on you – that’s been huge for us. There’s no feeling like the reception you get when you come out on the right side.

“I’d love the opportunity to carry on as captain. I’ve been in a pretty dark place at times, when results weren’t going our way, but I hope that makes me stronger as a character and as a captain.

“It’s pretty tough to win games when no one’s scoring a run. I can’t speak highly enough of our bowlers this summer, because they always gave us opportunities to win games even when we weren’t scoring runs.

“Regardless of the wickets we were playing on, they kept coming in for us all year and delivering, and they’ve carried that right through to the end of the season just when we needed it."

The young skipper also dedicated the victory to outgoing director of cricket Matthew Maynard and strength and conditioning coach Darren Venness, both of whom are now leaving the club.

He said: “It’s disappointing to see him [Maynard] go. We spoke this morning and said we wanted to for Matt and for Daz.

“It’s a horrible time. Matt gave the news to us in the dressing room yesterday evening, which sent a bit of a shockwave through the dressing room.

READ MORE: Maynard 'saddened' by Somerset exit

“We wish him well for the future, and I can’t thank him enough for the support he’s given me and the opportunities as a young player – I’ll be forever grateful to him.

“I can’t get over what we’ve done, I’m just so happy. You can see there’s nothing like Championship cricket in bringing emotions out in people, and there’s no better feeling than winning a four-day game.

“To win in the circumstances that we have in the last few weeks make it extra special.”