SOMERSET are likely to start the season with James Hildreth batting at three, head coach Jason Kerr has said.

Hildreth, who has batted at four for the vast majority of his Somerset career, scored 158 not out from his new position in the first innings of the convincing win over Cardiff MCCU.

Azhar Ali moved up to open the innings while  George Bartlett and Eddie Byrom, both of whom batted in the top three last season, were pushed down the order - Byrom responded with his first Somerset First Class century in the second innings.

Kerr said: “We have asked a lot of our young batsmen in challenging situations in recent years.

“I think we’ve seen in this game with Bartlett and Byrom coming in down the order that it gives them that bit more time, which hopefully will allow them to become a little more consistent.

“It is likely we will shape up that way."

With England yet to solve their top-order issues, particularly at number three, Hildreth could yet make a push for an Ashes spot if he starts the season well in that position for Somerset.

Kerr insisted, however, that the decision to move him up the order came from the coaching staff and captain rather than the player.

“It is about controlling what we can control," Kerr said.

"We will make decisions in the best interests of Somerset but we would all love Hildy to get the recognition he deserves.

“Abes [Tom Abell] and I make decisions in the best interests of the team – sometimes it will work in your favour and other times it won’t.

“They all have international ambitions, so we have to keep one eye on that, but we will make decisions that give us the best chance of winning games for Somerset."

Kerr was also understandably content with how Somerset are shaping up.

“Pre-season has gone really well," he said.

"That match sharpness wasn’t there last year but every county was in the same boat due to how bad the weather was.

"The marquee provided great preparation last year but match sharpness was what we were after this year and that’s what we have had.

“Jack Brooks did what he has done against us for a number of years now and added a real new dimension to our attack.

"To take 20 wickets and win games of cricket you have to be penetrative and I think we’ll do that with the attack we’ve got this year.

"In that second innings the ball was hitting the top of off and we were asking questions.

"With all due respect, they are not First Class opposition but they are still good players with aspirations within the game."

Somerset's final pre-season match begins against Middlesex at Taunton Vale on Saturday.

Kerr plans to name a squad of 14 or 15 for that match - unlike the Cardiff MCCU game, it does not have First Class status - meaning opportunities to impress for seamers Tim Groenewald and Paul van Meekeren.

Lewis Gregory is due to be rested, as is Steve Davies, so Tom Banton will keep wicket.