LANCASHIRE’S new captain Tom Smith said he cannot wait to return to the field in his ‘dream’ role ahead of the 2015 County Championship season.

The 29-year-old, who has been at the club since 2005, was chosen to lead the team by newly-appointed head coach Ashley Giles as the Red Rose seek to bounce back to Division One at the first time of asking following last year’s relegation.

“I’m massively looking forward to it. It’s my boyhood club and I’ve played here the whole of my career,” the all-rounder told Quays News.

“To go out and lead Lancashire at Old Trafford is a dream come true.

“Being captain you have different decisions to make such as team selection, media stuff and other things aside from going out on the field to perform which changes the way you have to prepare.

“It’s going to be fun and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

Smith, known by team-mates as Smudger, admitted he is still adjusting to life as a captain and its requirements but is confident he will grow into the role throughout the year.

“I’ve played under a few different captains at Lancashire and they’ve all been great and have their own style,” he explained.

“As for me, I’m still learning and I’m sure the qualities will come through as the season progresses.

“I’m sure I’ll need guidance along the way but I’m lucky to have such a great support network here at Lancashire and I’m looking forward to getting out onto the field and working with the boys.”

The Red Rose were demoted to Division Two for the second time in three years last September after losing out in a winner-takes-all clash with Middlesex in their final game at Emirates Old Trafford.

But Smith is ‘very optimistic’ Lancashire can make an immediate return – just as they did when falling out of the top division in 2012 as reigning champions.

“We did it last time and there’s no reason why we can’t again,” the right-arm medium bowler and left-handed batter stated.

“We have a strong squad this year and we want to go out there and win. We will play our brand of cricket and I’m sure if we play well we’ll be up there at the end of the season.”

There has been plenty of changes at Lancs both on and off the field during the winter, most notably the appointment of former England and Warwickshire bowler Giles as director of cricket and head coach.

And Smith believes the 42-year-old’s experience will be ‘massive’ in the club’s quest for success.

“It’s been different with Ashley [Giles] coming in as a new coach with new ideas and new things for us to think about which is really exciting,” he said.

“He’s played a lot of international cricket and county cricket. He knows the ins and outs of the game and every aspect of the play. He’s been involved in almost every situation and he’s got great experience to draw from.

“As a coach so far he’s settled in really well and has brought ideas which the lads have embraced and I’m really looking forward to working under him this year.”

Smith, who is close to reaching 100 first-class games for the Red Rose, enjoyed an impressive season amid a disappointing 2014 for Lancashire – taking 55 wickets and earning the Player of the Year award which also led to an England Lions call-up last summer.

Although the Liverpool-born player acknowledged he wants to improve his high-score rate this year, he insisted he is only looking to help the team rather than set personal targets.

“Last year was a great year for me and to back that up would be amazing. At the moment I’m just looking forward to playing for Lancashire, being captain and helping the team do well so that’s all I am focused on,” Smith said.

“For me personally, last season I got to 50 runs quite a lot and got out so it’s pushing on to the big scores which change the game.

“Other than that, I’m just looking to do what I did last year and do the basics. My gameplay is based around being very simple and keeping it easy.”

Lancashire host Leeds/Bradford University this weekend in a three-day game before officially opening their campaign against Derbyshire on April 19.

And Smith, who married fiancé Holly back in December, is expecting a tough assignment when facing Graeme Welch’s team.

“It’s going to be tough [against Derbyshire]. It’s the first game of the season and no matter who you are playing you are always excited to go out and play. It’s something you always look forward to as a cricketer.

“They have a strong squad and we know we’re going to have to play well to beat them.”

From Emirates Old Trafford

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