TOM Morton says seeing smiles on the faces of Wiltshire Cricket representatives across the board will be key to the county’s chances of success next summer.

The 32-year-old will begin his tenure as Wiltshire’s head coach on January 1, filling the void left by the resignation of long-serving Neil Shardlow and taking responsibility for both the first and second XIs.

Maintaining a consistent culture across both and ensuring a smooth transition from age group to senior cricket are regarded as pivotal factors by Morton.

But, having turned out for the county as a wicketkeeper/batsman for the past 12 years, the new man at the helm insists he has an excellent base to build from.

“In terms of the culture, I would say Neil Shardlow had it spot-on,” said Morton, who has worked as Ealing CC’s director of cricket since 2016.

“The last few years have been really good and we’ve got a great captain in the shape of (Potterne’s) Ed Young.

“From my point of view, I just want to make sure people have freedom and the confidence to challenge their capability. Most of all, though, it has to be enjoyable for them.

“People are giving up Sundays and taking annual leave in order to play so it needs to be enjoyable. And if it is then they have the best chance of improving and doing well.”

This is not the first time Morton has followed in Shardlow’s footsteps, having succeeded his former coach as the Wiltshire wicketkeeper at the age of 19.

Shardlow – who played for the county for 16 years before that – will remain on the scene as vice-chairman.

He led the county to their first trophy since 1909 when they lifted the Minor Counties Western Division championship in 2014 but last summer was a disappointing one on the field, with Wiltshire losing five of their six three-day matches.

However, it also saw the introduction of a 2nd XI and Southampton-based Morton hopes the fruits of that decision will bear fruit in years to come.

He said: “I think that is the biggest change and it’s certainly a good move that has also been adopted by other counties.

“The 1st and 2nd XI fixtures don’t clash so I’ll be able to watch all of the games and see whether players might be able to make the step up. If the teams have the same ethos through to the U17s then it will really help these lads make the transition, which at times can be difficult.”

Morton said the progress made James Vince, Liam Dawson and Tom Alsop since starting their careers as young cricketers in Wiltshire offers recent proof that the cream of the county’s young talent can rise to the very top and is eager to help countless more follow the examples set by the Hampshire trio.

He also believes a reshuffle of the minor counties fixture list – which will see T20 group matches followed by a straight one-day knockout competition before the Unicorns Championship gets under way in July – will prove beneficial all round.

“That’s a really good development for minor counties cricket as it mirrors the next level up,” said Morton, a former captain and coach at South Wilts CC.

“Minor Counties (cricket) wants to be seen as a pathway and a chance to progress in the game and it will certainly help those lads who have aspirations to move on.”