Big Interview: Glen Chapple

Glen Chapple was named as Lancashires new head coach this week (photo: LCCC)

Glen Chapple was named as Lancashires new head coach this week (photo: LCCC)

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After a stellar 20-plus year county career for Lancashire, Glen Chapple has been named the club’s new head coach. Craig Salmon catches up with the new Old Trafford boss

Lancashire stalwart Glen Chapple has come a long way since the days when he used to mess around with his mates as kids at the Applegarth – the home of Earby Cricket Club.

Every day – certainly through the summer months – the young Chapple would head down to William Street in his hometown – which nestles close to the border of Yorkshire – and enjoy a game of bat and ball.

Probably little did he know at the time, but Chapple was honing his skills to such an extent that he would later go on to become one of his county’s greatest ever players.

Despite being born over the border in Skipton, Chapple’s name has become synonymous with everything that is good about Lancashire cricket.

After making his first-class debut as a raw 18-year-old against Essex at Chelmsford, the bowling all-rounder has gone on to take nearly 1,000 wickets and score more than 8,500 run in 315 first-class appearances. He has captained the club – most famously leading the team to the County Championship in 2011 – thus ending 77-years of hurt since their last title success.

He is widely regarded as one of the best English players never to be capped at Test level, although he did make one solitary appearance for the one-day side against Ireland in Belfast in 2006.

Now aged 42 – he turns 43 tomorrow, Chapple is not yet officially retired as a player, but over the last couple of years he has begun to make the transition from player to coach.

That evolution was completed this week when he was announced as Lancashire’s new head coach – taking over from the departed Ashley Giles, who left Old Trafford at the end of last year to take up a similar position at Warwickshire.

Excited about what lies in store in the future, Chapple revealed he has had many messages of support and congratulations from people who played a significant role in his development in the long and distant past.

The legendary Red Rose figure will always forever be grateful to the club which put him on the road to cricketing prominence.

“Earby is my home club and I spent many happy years there just enjoying playing the game,” Chapple said. “Obviously my dad Mike was a big influence on me. He was playing for Nelson in the Lancashire League when I was three or four-years-old.

“Then he moved back to Earby when I was a little bit older. I just spent basically every day, not just the weekend, playing down at the club. Then getting into the adult sides and going right the way through to the first team.

“I think in the old days when I grew up, playing club cricket and against men at a very early age was fantastic for developing young players.

“I was playing against men at the age of 11 or 12 – I’m not sure you’re even allowed to that nowadays.

“It was brilliant playing in the Ribblesdale League.

“I got into the first-team at the age of 14 and played alongside some real characters.

“I think my first ever game for Earby’s first team was a friendly against Tonge – I don’t think I got a wicket though.

“We had a really good team back then – I think in my final year playing for them, both the first team and second teams won the league and cup double.

“So that was a fantastic way to end playing for them before I left to join Lancashire.

“Looking back at my time with Earby, I don’t think I ever envisaged becoming a professional player until maybe I reached the age or 17.

“Maybe it was when I turned 16 I started to think about becoming a pro because that’s the time when people and clubs start to look at you .

“I just remember thinking back then that professional cricketers played on television and they were a lot better than the rest of us.”

Chapple will be assisted in his new role at Old Trafford by his former team-mate and fellow ex-skipper Mark Chilton.

Despite playing alongside many of the current players, he does not foresee too many problems with the dynamics now that he is in charge. There are obviously still many players left in the squad who I played with,” Chapple said.

“But they will all have been playing under my time as captain, so I would have had that kind of authority anyway.

“It can throw up certain challenges, but it can also be advantageous just as well.

“Hopefully, I have got their trust and they believe in my intentions – that my motives are purely to help them and the club achieve what it wants to achieve.”

With a number of players over the last few years having reached natural retirement age, Chapple admits he will be looking to bolster the squad ahead of the new season.

However, he is keen to promote and develop the club’s younger players.

“Our priority is obviously to develop from within – it always will be,” he said.

“ We want our younger players to go on and play for England.”