Somerset have signed Steve Kirby from neighbours Gloucestershire on a three-year contract after the quick bowler asked to be released from his Bristol deal to pursue Division One cricket.

Kirby still had two years to run at Gloucestershire but wants to make one final push for international honours and believes he can only do that in the top flight. He will certainly add a cutting edge to Somerset's attack which is currently led by the hard-working Charl Willoughby, the former South Africa left-arm paceman, but lacks somebody with pace.

"Somerset are putting together the nucleus of a side who can be contenders in all forms of cricket and I am looking forward to competing for a place because competition is what sport is all about for me," Kirby told the Somerset website. "The club has a great infrastructure as well as a very good team. I can assure their supporters I have plenty of fire left in my belly and I'm looking forward to the challenge of bowling at Taunton.''

Brian Rose, the Somerset director of cricket, added: "I have made it clear for some time that we needed to strengthen our seam bowling unit and Steve will give us a bit of extra pace," he said. "That is a real advantage when you are trying to bowl out tail-enders at a place like Taunton and he has the sort of character too to get among later order batsmen.

"He is still ambitious to play for England, which means he will be giving it everything next season, and he has always been a very spirited cricketer. The deal was done very quickly. As soon as we heard he was leaving Gloucestershire we went in for him and I pleased to say we soon reached agreement."