Essex head coach Paul Grayson believes they would have won promotion had county umpires been "brave" enough to report Worcestershire's Saeed Ajmal.
The Pakistan spinner was suspended by the International Cricket Council last month for an illegal bowling action.
He had taken 63 wickets in nine County Championship games for Worcestershire, who beat Essex to promotion.
"I've no doubt that if Worcestershire didn't have Ajmal, we would have gone up this year," Grayson told BBC Essex.
"They've struggled in the second half of the season when he was supposed to be away with Pakistan. I don't want to sound like we're being bitter, but I do believe we should have gone up this year."
|Ajmal's impact for Worcestershire|
|Played nine matches - five wins, four draws||63 wickets at an average of 16.47|
|Five+ wickets in an innings six times, 10+ wickets in a match twice||417.3 overs, 116 maidens|
Ajmal, 36, did not play for Worcestershire after mid-July after joining up with Pakistan, but his action was reported the following month following their Test defeat by Sri Lanka.
Subsequent testing showed his action exceeded the 15 degrees of bend permitted in the arm.
"He's been called for chucking; it's illegal," said Grayson.
"My only concern is I wish one of our English umpires had the bravery to call him early season.
"Speaking to a lot of umpires on the circuit, they all talk about him chucking it, but whether they had that support from the ECB [England and Wales Cricket Board].
"I'm not sure why they weren't prepared to call him."
Worcestershire finished second in Division Two, eight points ahead of Essex, to secure promotion to the top flight.