Somerset start new county championship season without Banton

Somerset players and staff face the camera at The County Ground ahead of the 2022 season

Somerset players and staff face the camera at The County Ground ahead of the 2022 season - Credit: PA

Somerset start the new County Championship Division One season with a trip to the Ageas Bowl to take on Hampshire on Thursday.

But they will be without England batter Tom Banton, who faces up to a month on the sidelines after breaking his finger.

Banton remains a relatively new figure on the international scene having played 14 T20 and six one-day internationals since bursting onto the scene during a prolific 2019 season.

The Somerset opener made his England debut in November that year and was included on the most recent tour of the West Indies this winter, playing five times and scoring one half-century.

"I've just broken my finger so I'll be out for a month," he said.

"Pre-season on the second day in the slips I dived to my left and dropped it (the ball). I've had a few X-rays and it's fractured so I've just seen a specialist and they're advising a few weeks off.

"If I do it again I might need an operation. This is my second finger I've done, so (it's) not ideal."

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Banton had targeted an improvement in long-format cricket over the winter and was left disappointed by his setback.

He added: "My red ball is probably not where it needs to be (but) I feel like it's definitely improving.

"I feel like I've come back as a new player this year. I've worked on a few things in the winter technically and a lot of things have changed, which I've seen the rewards (of) through pre-season.

"Hopefully I can take that into when I'm back playing."

Banton was retained by the Welsh Fire for the second season of The Hundred, as Jacob Lintott and Craig Overton will play for Southern Brave, Jack Leach, Tom Abell and Will Smeed line up for Birmingham Phoenix, Tom Lammonby represents Manchester Originals, Lewis Gregory plays for Trent Rockets and Roelof van der Merwe joins Northern Superchargers.

Meanwhile, Western Storm captain Sophie Luff has signed for the Lord's-based London Spirit women's team, having played for Welsh Fire last year.

Luff said: "I'm really excited to be joining London Spirit and linking up with Heather (Knight) and the team.

"The Hundred was a fantastic competition last year but it'll be really special to be playing at the Home of Cricket this summer and I'm looking forward to a new challenge."

Lauren Filer and Georgia Hennessy remain with Welsh Fire.