ARUL Suppiah has set his sights on filling the place in the side vacated by Ian Blackwell, who has joined County Champions Durham.

First team appearances were limited for the 25-year-old right had batsman and left arm spinner in 2008, but he hopes Blackwell’s departure will help him cement a place.

When he did get his chance he did nothing wrong, hitting 163 runs at an average of 32.60 in the Championship. He played in seven one-day matches and six Twenty20 games, ending with a batting average of 25.50 and taking four wickets at 27.50.

He has already been working hard and has received bowling coaching from former England spinner Richard Illingworth.

The Malaysia-born Suppiah said: “The door is open for somebody to claim a place in the first team. It’s time for me to step up now and establish myself in the Somerset side.

“I had a good in the first team games that I played last season so I am now looking to make that a permanent place for myself.

“This next season is a big one for me because I am coming to an age when I am maturing as a person and also I know what I want, so it would be good to take that spot and make it mine.

“I am working with Jason Kerr on my batting but Richard Illingworth is helping me with my bowling and I have already had a couple of two hour sessions with him which have been a great help.

“I am off to Loughborough in early January for a week long camp where I will be working with Jack Birkenshaw. We have already had one session with him, which was based on a match scenario and which I found very useful indeed.

Somerset head coach Andy Hurry believes Suppiah has every chance of making a first team place his own.

He said: “He seems to be really working very hard this winter and is working with Richard Illingworth on his bowling.”

Hurry went on: “Arul showed what he is capable of when he got his chances in the summer and he has now got his chance. It’s important now for the younger guys to stand up and become men.”

Former Wellington player Suppiah made his Somerset debut in 2002 in the tied match against West Indies A, in which he took 3-46. He also appeared in four one-day games that season.

In 2005 Suppiah was given an extended run in the first team and showed exactly what he was capable of by hitting his maiden first class century and ended with an average of 32.23.

The following year he scored 563 first class runs in the 12 matches he played, but in 2007 his opportunities were limited.