James Vince believes Hampshire can go from County Championship division one relegation-battlers to title contenders.
Last season, the Ageas Bowl outfit appeared destined to be plying their trade in division two this term until a run of three victories from their last four games ensured an unlikely survival.
That was at the expense of Sussex, who joined Worcestershire in relegation from the top flight.
The great escape is one Vince does not want to relive, though, and the Hampshire skipper is convinced his side’s impressive campaign-ending form is reason to be optimistic ahead of Sunday’s 2016 curtain raiser at home to Warwickshire.
He said: ‘It will be nice to start the season as we finished it last year and hopefully we will avoid being in the situation we were in at the back end of last year.
‘Hopefully we have some tight games at the other end of the division to come and we are competing for top spot.
‘I think we have the squad capable of doing that so it is important to get off to a good start on Sunday.
‘I don’t see why we can’t challenge at the top end.
‘We beat some of the top teams at the back end of last year and we have got a similar squad, but with the inclusion of Reece Topley as well, so we have strengthened.
‘And if we play as well as we did at the end of last year, we will be there or there abouts.
‘It’s nice to be at home, we should know what to expect here although early season you are never quite sure what you are going to come up against.
‘But we beat Warwickshire here towards the end of last season so hopefully the guys can feed off that and take some confidence into it.’
Vince, Topley and fellow Hampshire player Liam Dawson were all part of the England T20 World Cup squad who were beaten finalists in India last Sunday.
West Indies captain Darren Sammy was the man to lift the trophy for the victors, and his arrival on the south coast, alongside big-hitting Pakistan veteran Shahid Afridi, has the 25-year-old eyeing more success in the short format.
‘In the T20 we are generally pretty strong,’ said Vince,
‘We have made six Finals Days on the bounce so hopefully we can carry on as we have been doing there.
‘But rather than just getting to the finals, it would be nice to win it this year.
‘We are due a win so it would be nice to bring the trophy back here.
‘Again, we have strengthened our squad and showed some intent in bringing Darren Sammy and Shahid Afridi in.
‘And to add those two to what we have already got will make us a very powerful team. We can provide some good entertainment here and win some matches.’