HAMPSHIRE captain James Vince insists "there is a lot of optimism" as the county looks to end their 51-year wait for County Championship glory.

The 33 year old has played a key role at Hampshire since he made his debut in 2009 - winning multiple T20 Blast's and one-day cups.

The County Championship, though, has so far alluded his side but they did push eventual winners Surrey all the way last season before ultimately finishing third.

Vince claimed there is a "clear goal" to end the drought for a four-day title but is fully aware of just how difficult that will be.

He told the Daily Echo: "There is a lot of optimism around the group and for me personally.

"There is a clear goal of trying to win a County Championship that this club hasn’t won for half a century. We all want to achieve that and be part of the group that does achieve that.

"There are a few players at the back end of their careers but it doesn’t take away the motivation of going out there and putting in good performances."

In order to give Hampshire the best chance of success, there has been a push to improve physical fitness in the off-season.

Hampshire play four four-day matches in the first month of the season and they begin their campaign with a long trip to Durham on Friday, April 5.

The 2019 World Cup winner believes that work done in the winter could benefit the side when the games begin to come thick and fast.

He continued: "In the winter, there is only so much cricket stuff you can do - there has been stuff for the guys to work on indoors.

"There is time there to do physical stuff and it is about trying to give ourselves the best opportunity.

"If it gives us a tiny advantage or helps us with one or two per cent then that is only going to benefit us.

"You need to be full of energy over four days and then back it up next week in the next game and the game after that.

"The team looks good, the guys that have been here in the winter have put in a lot of work.

"It’s nice to come back and see the guys looking strong and eager to get out there and start the season."

The Utilita Bowl side have added exciting batsman Ali Orr to their ranks after he joined from Sussex.

Along with 22 year old Fletcha Middleton, the pair promise to be an exciting combination for Hampshire going forward.

Vince added: "(Ali Orr) has a good record but is a fairly young guy so I don’t want to pin too much pressure on him.

"He looks like a quality player and I am sure over time he will put in match-winning performances for Hampshire.

"That position at the top of the order is a different one so I don’t want to put him under pressure, he has the game to have a good season.

"Fletcha Middleton also showed us what he can do last season so those guys will have a big future.

"Apart from Ali, it’s much the same group as last year so hopefully the guys have all come back strong and have made improvements."

A strong start to the season could prove pivotal for Hampshire - with Vince believing multiple teams can challenge for the title.

"Getting off to a good start is important, we don’t want to be coming from behind again or relying on other results so we will be doing everything we can to start the season well," Vince continued.

"Surrey are the standout given they have won it the last couple of years but there are some strong teams in the division.

"Durham are a newly promoted side and I think they will be strong, Essex are always there or thereabouts."