TOM Abell will be starting his 11th season as a Somerset player when he takes the field for the start of the three day pre-season game against Exeter University at the Cooper Associates County Ground this coming Sunday, writes Richard Walsh. And for the first time since 2017 he will be without the responsibility of captaincy. Tom was appointed as skipper to replace Chris Rogers at the tender age of 22, making him Somerset’s youngest ever captain, since when he has held the reins. However back in November he decided to stand down from the role. How hard a decision had that been? “The end of last season was pretty disappointing as we set our standards high in championship cricket and we’ve not quite met those in the last couple of years,” he said. “Last season was a challenging one and it was disappointing to finish the season in the way that we did. It would have been nice to have finished with some good performances but it didn’t quite happen for us and we were disappointed at the end of last season with our championship form. “I was questioning my position as captain as well. “My decision to step down from the captaincy was one I’d considered for a long period of time and having done the role for seven years not only was it right for me but it was right for the team. A slight change of leadership can be a helpful thing.  “Ultimately part of my decision is that I want to get back to be the player I want to be as well and I knew giving up the captaincy would give me the chance to focus a bit more on my own game and try and get that to a point where I am happy and feel like I’m ready to perform for the team.” Tom went onto talk about his winter, during which he spent time helping Easter Cape Sunrisers win the SA T20, by scoring 326 runs at an average of 54. “Going away to play for in South Africa I didn’t have the pressure and expectation on my shoulders,” he added. “We had a fantastic team and I was able to contribute to that success. “Somerset then had a brilliant couple of weeks in Abu Dhabi when things came together well as a group, and with Lewis at the helm now that’s really exciting for everyone.” Looking to the 2024 campaign Tom said: “I am very optimistic about this season, I want to get my game to the point where I want it to be from a batting point of view and I am pretty excited to do that, but I will still have a role as a senior player among the group.’’