SOMERSET'S senior players have thrown their support firmly behind new skipper Justin Langer.

The Australian opener, who announced his retirement from Test cricket this week, has agreed a one-year deal at the County Ground but could return in 2008.

The announcement was the perfect New Year's present for Somerset fans who warmed to Langer during his time with the club last summer.

The 36-year-old, who has played 105 Test matches, spent five highly successful weeks at the club in 2006.

He became a firm favourite with the crowds after helping to set a new record team total in the Twenty20 Cup against Gloucestershire and scoring a mammoth 342 against Surrey at Guildford in the County Championship.

Last year's skipper Ian Blackwell, who missed much of the season with injury, was delighted to hear about Langer's arrival, which will allow him to concentrate more on his own game.

He said: "I'm delighted to have such a quality player as Justin coming to join us especially as it will be as captain for the whole season.

"I am not disappointed that he will be in charge, although I would still like to captain the side again at some stage in the future.

"This will give me a chance to concentrate on my own game and get myself back into the England one-day frame.

"He will be a great asset to the side and with the likes of Cameron White, myself and hopefully Marcus Trescothick also in the line-up, we will be in for a successful summer."

Former England Test bowler Andy Caddick said: "It's very good news for us all that Justin is coming back.

"In the short time he was here in 2006 he showed just how good a player he is and to have him here as captain for the whole season will bring a great deal to the side."

Brian Rose, Somerset's director of cricket, said: "Over the last four seasons Somerset have lacked consistent leadership and this is what we expect Justin to bring, especially after his vast experience in Test match cricket and as captain of Western Australia.

"His presence and influence on the side will boost our experienced players as well as helping us develop the younger players we have on the staff."