Somerset are not chokers. But I accept that until the current team puts some silverware on the shelf at Taunton that is how we are going to be perceived within the domestic game.
We have finished runners-up in five competitions over the last two season and of all those near misses the one that frustrated me most was last season’s Twenty20 Cup because I was convinced we were the best side in that competition.
We produced the best cricket throughout the tournament and would have won it had we been at our best on Finals Day at the Rose Bowl. Whether the occasion got to certain players I don’t know, but we didn’t turn up as a team.
No one could accuse us of choking in the County Championship because we finished strongly to tie on points with Notts and just couldn’t force the win we needed at the Riverside in our final game.
The Clydesdale Bank 40 final at Lord’s came just days later and we were gone in the head from what had happened at Durham. I don’t think that was a case of choking either, but the tag will follow us around until we do something about it – and that has to happen this season.
Being regarded as favourites for the County Championship, even though we have never won it, excites me because it shows how highly people rate us and how good our squad is.
Of course it will bring added pressure as the season progresses and that is an extra burden we have to carry. We need to utilise it in the right way and ensure it helps, rather than hinders, our efforts to go one step further than last year. We have to continue doing the things we did in 2010 and find that little bit extra.
Recruiting Steve Kirby and Gemaal Hussain to our bowling ranks will add something and the players who were here last season have to find that two or three per cent extra.
The Championship has eluded the club for ever and we have to find a way of getting across the finishing line. It remains the Holy Grail, but I don’t really mind which competition we win as long as our supporters see us lift a trophy. We shall look to compete strongly in all competitions again.
The feeling of being distraught at the end of every one of them last season is still relatively fresh in our minds and we need to use it as a spur to drive us to where we want to be. I want Somerset to be regarded as the top club side in the world, not just in England.
We lost our first two Championship games last season and it cost us dearly so we know how important it is to hit the ground running this summer. Personally, I am feeling excited and ready to go. The sun has been out and it has been a kind pre-season for Somerset so I can’t wait to get started in the Championship and to look after such a great group of players.
We have several talented youngsters coming through and ready to press for first team places so no one can take his position for granted. Everything is in place for Somerset to become winners, not chokers.