Head Coach in upbeat mood ahead of the new cricket season...

JASON Kerr detects “something special” developing at Somerset in the build-up to the new county cricket season.

And that makes the head coach bullishly confident about the summer ahead.

“It’s hard to explain, but there has been a work ethic, unity and hunger about the players in the build-up, which is exceptional,” he said. “I believe something special is happening. There is a huge amount of confidence in the dressing room, which we will take into the season, and it remains to be seen whether it is justified.

“There will be optimism at every county at this time of year. I can only say that I couldn’t be happier with the efforts of the players over the winter or the spirit in the dressing room.”

Somerset miss the first round of Specsavers County Championship matches, which start on Friday, and instead host Oxford MCCU at Taunton Vale over the weekend.

It means an extra week of practice leading up to the Championship opener at home to Worcestershire, starting on Friday week, and more time to pin down that overseas signing.

“Not being involved in the first fixtures is good for a number of reasons,” said Kerr. “The weather has been so bad that we could do with a bit more match practice and the Oxford MCCU game will provide that.

“We will look to field pretty much the team we want to face Worcestershire. But there are still a couple of places up for grabs and we need to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to earn selection.

“Some players have had more match practice than others, so we may give one or two of the others a chance. Whoever plays, we want to see the team operate with the same intensity as in a Championship game.”

Jamie Overton and Lewis Gregory have both shown no sign of the back problems that inhibited them last season.

And, with England players, Craig Overton and Jack Leach available for the opening block of Championship games, Somerset will hope to bely their reputation as notoriously slow starters.

Batting was their downfall last summer. But Marcus Trescothick has already fallen just short of a century in the warm-up game against Ireland and Kerr is convinced, at the age of 42, the former England opener can have a big season.

“Marcus is moving as well as ever at the crease,” he said. “There have also been good signs from the likes of James Hildreth and Eddie Byrom, among others, so hopefully we won’t go short of runs.”

This article first appeared in the Independent. To get the latest articles when they appear, buy the print edition every Sunday or subscribe to our online edition HERE.