LIAM PLUNKETT says Yorkshire must be wary of a Somerset side out to prove a point as the LV= County Championship division one season starts for both teams at Taunton tomorrow.
While Yorkshire played some exceptional cricket to finish second last summer, Marcus Trescothick’s men only won three matches out of 16 and found themselves only 24 points away from the relegation places.
Only Nick Compton passed 1,000 runs and none of their bowlers took 50 wickets.
And, having failed to significantly strengthen their squad, it would be no surprise to see them struggle again.
Plunkett, however, has a different view. “They were probably disappointed with their performances last year because they’ve got such a strong squad,” said the England Lions all-rounder.
“But they’ll pose a big threat, and we’ve got to put in a top performance.
“The season’s starting again. There’s so many good teams there this year.
“You can’t be behind the ball from the word go.
“You’ve got to start strong because people who struggled last year can finish in the top three.”
Plunkett, who celebrated his 29th birthday last Sunday, has a similar “can’t take anything for granted” attitude about his own performances as well.
The Middlesbrough-born player arrived at Yorkshire ahead of last summer down on luck having endured a nightmare end to his Durham career.
But a winter’s work with Jason Gillespie gave him a new lease of life, and he finished 2013 with 36 wickets and 394 runs from 12 Championship matches.
He starts this season brimming with confidence on the back of an impressive tour of Sri Lanka with the England Lions.
“It was a big decision for me (to sign for Yorkshire), but I’m really happy that I came here,” said the player who played nine Test matches, 29 one-day internationals and one Twenty20 international for England between 2005 and 2011.
“I felt I improved as a cricketer last year and got myself back on track thanks to the coaching staff.
“It was a mental thing as well when I came here, but Dizzy helped me to simplify things.
“I enjoyed playing cricket again. As soon as you enjoy it and want to be there, things fall into place.
“This year I can’t really stand still because it’s a big squad here. I want to try and impress again and improve from last year.”
Plunkett scored 271 runs, including a century, and took seven wickets in four first-class matches for the Lions in Sri Lanka through February.
“I got called up late when Chris Jordan went into the one-day squad,” he added.
“I’d had a couple of nets at Yorkshire, and I went over there with an open mind. I didn’t want to go over there and be 12th or 13th man. I wanted to go and play.
“I had a week’s training over there, and in my first game I got a hundred, which was surprising to a lot of people.
“That gave me a lot of confidence, and the tour went well. I managed to score a few more runs and take wickets.
“I was happy for the chance. I left in a good place.”
Meanwhile, Yorkshire have appointed 51-year-old Paul Hudson from Wetherby as their new financial director, replacing Charles Hartwell.
Hudson is also the chairman of the junior committee at his home club Walton, where he has responsibility for their under 13s squad.
He will start his new job with Yorkshire on May 6.
Yorkshire’s 12-man squad v Somerset: Gale (c), Ashraf, Ballance, Brooks, Hodd (w), Lees, Lyth, Patterson, Plunkett, Rashid, Sidebottom, Williamson.