Champions Lancashire face new challenge

Looking forward: Tom Smith with the backdrop of Old Trafford
Looking forward: Tom Smith with the backdrop of Old Trafford
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Tom Smith believes Lancashire will have to adapt to their new role as champions when they begin their defence of the LV County Championship title next week.

The Chorley-born all-rounder was a key member of a squad that exceeded expectations by claiming Lancashire’s first outright title since 1934.

But having surprised everyone with their first title in 77 years, Smith believes they will now have to become accustomed to being the team to beat when they begin their championship campaign against Sussex at Aigburth next week.

“Last year there were a few people who tipped us for relegation rather than winning it,” said Smith. “They didn’t take us that seriously and I think this year will be different.

“As champions it will be different for us and we will have to adapt to being one of the favourites again rather than being an underdog and we’re going to have to get used to that.”

He added: “I think we drew a line under last season some time ago.

“We enjoyed ourselves and 77 years is a long time to wait for a championship and it was a great achievement for the club and the lads, but now we’re fully focussed on this year coming up.”

Lancashire will be strengthened by the return of South African batsman Ashwell Prince as their overseas player and they are in negotiations to re-sign Pakistan left-arm seamer Junaid Khan to strengthen their squad for t20 cricket.