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Somerset season preview

Cidermen looking to build on success of last season

Caddick: back surgery

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Somerset are back in the top-flight of the County Championship for the first time since 2002.

Justin Langer returns for a second year as captain looking to be build on the success of his maiden campaign when he led the side to the Divison Two title at a canter, and also earned Pro40 promotion.

The batting line-up again looks formidably strong - Neil Edwards, James Hildreth, Langer and Marcus Trescothick all scored 1,000 runs last season and return hungry for more.

Trescothick, having retired from international cricket due to the stress-related illness that prevents him touring, provides a feared presence for opposition bowlers in every form of the game.

If the top-order's heavy run-scoring of last season is repeated, as appears likely given the continued flawless nature of the Taunton wicket, then survival should not be an issue.

However, high-scoring draws will not be enough to get involved in the title race and the Cidermen's bowling resources look thin, particularly given the step up in class.

Caddick fitness worry

The new-ball partnership of Andrew Caddick and Charl Willoughby has been outstanding during the last two seasons, but neither are in the first-flush of youth and the supporting cast has not been strengthened.

Caddick, 39, had back surgery during the winter and his fitness remains doubtful. His potential absence for an extended period would be a major loss given his haul of 75 first-class wickets in 2007.

South African all-rounder Alfonso Thomas has been signed as a Kolpak, while the return to fitness of Ben Phillips - after missing all of 2007 due to injury - provides a further boost.

Off-spinner Omari Banks, who has played 10 Tests for West Indies, and untried paceman Andy Sutton are the only other additions to the first-team squad. Banks - something of an unfulfilled talent - does not count as an overseas player as he hails from Anguilla, a British protectorate.

Gone from the 2007 squad are former vice-captain Matthew Wood, all-rounder Gareth Andrew and wicketkeeper Sam Spurway.

Big year for: Neil Edwards - After plundering 1,039 runs in the lower tier last season, it will be interesting to see how the left-handed opener - something of a Trescothick clone - fares against Division One bowling attacks.

Rising star: Michael Munday - The Oxford University graduate made just two Championship appearances last season but should find opportunities more plentiful in 2008. The leg-spinner has plenty of variations and bowled superbly while taking 10 wickets - including second-innings figures of 8-55 - in the Division Two title clinching victory over Nottinghamshire last September.