It’s not always easy making the step up from number two to being the head coach. Some, they say, are meant to be a great coach but not destined to be the leader. Others look at ease as the main man and command immediate respect from his charges. The proof of the pudding, as always, will be in the eating. But early impressions are Glen Chapple has the aura of a man at home in Lancashire’s hotseat.
He is, of course, Lancashire through and through. He represented the Red Rose with distinction in a First Class career which began in 1992 and finished in 2015. During that time he was part of bringing seven major trophies to Old Trafford – most notably captaining the Red Rose to County Championship glory in 2011.
His progression to the coaching staff was a seamless one, graduating swiftly from bowling coach to effectively assistant to Ashley Giles in his role as Director of Cricket.
Now, with Giles having moved on, the step up to being Head Coach has been equally seamless and it seems Lancashire are in safe hands once again.
“Previously I was more of an aid to the captain and coach whereas now I have to make some of those decisions myself,” Chapple said.
“I don’t think you have to become a certain person. You can’t go from player to coach overnight.
“But having been captain, you have to lead by example and not let yourself down at any stage. It’s nearly ten years since I’ve been a player, so I think I’m fully distanced in that respect.
“But I have terrific support from our coaching unit. We will always put the players first. The way we see it is the team are they to achieve success and we just want to help them get better really.
“I’ve enjoyed the job so far. I can’t wait to get into the competitive stuff.”
Chapple is being supported in his role by long-serving Lancashire player and long-term teammate Mark Chilton.
The fact that the pair have been around the club for so long, and an intrinsic part of the coaching staff in recent years, has helped smooth what could have been a bumpy winter for Lancashire, losing their coach just months before the start of the season.
And it also means that the message, the mentality and the approach has remained largely similar from the last two seasons. But Chapple has his own ideas and was keen to stress that he has his own philosophy to put on this Lancashire side.
“I think I’ve got my own stamp and I want us to be a competitive unit all season,” Chapple explained.
“What I want to see on the field is a team that fights for each other and sticks together. That knows what they’re good at and sticks together. But I want them to be themselves in training, I want them to have the freedom to express how they want to play cricket.
“They need to be professional and understand that it’s a career that needs to be enjoyed, but you need to enjoy getting better and working as a team. I want us to be a tough team to play against.”
Lancashire are, in the minds of many observers, one of the favourites for the drop from Division One. There is a determination from every member of squad and staff to prove that opinion wrong, while also competing across all three formats.
The club who dominated 50-over cricket during the 90s when Chapple was beginning his career haven’t reached a Lords final since 2006, something they are desperate to address. But Chapple was keen not to set targets or ambitions, choosing instead to focus on the players and the way they go about their cricket.
“I’d rather judge us on how we play our cricket,” the 43-year-old said.
“I know our ultimate position is how we will be judged. But if we finish mid table and played really good cricket, then great. I’d rather we won the division, but until it kicks off you don’t know how difficult it’s going to be.
“I think the key thing for me is, you can’t have a game off, you can’t let yourself underperform. In terms of intentions and focus you’ve got to be right at it.
“If I turn round at the end of the season and we’ve not had a session off, we’ve gone hard all year and done as well as we can, that’s where we’ll judge the four-day cricket really.”
If Lancashire fall short of where they want to be this season, it will certainly not be lack of effort or lack of commitment to the coaching team. James Anderson has played with Chapple throughout his Lancashire career and was full of praise for the way he has started in the job.
“Chappy has been brilliant so far – him and Chilly have really started well,” Anderson said.
“They’re trying to do something similar to what Trevor Bayliss did actually with England.
“They’ve been trying to get guys opening up and talking amongst themselves rather than them forcing themselves on everyone. That’s how players grow and learn quicker than by being told what to do. Taking ownership of their own game.”
And it was a view shared by a player at the opposite end of his career, young keeper-batsman Alex Davies, who believes the years of experience of the club will stand Chapple in good stead.
“We were uncertain about Ashley Giles’ future at the start of the winter, but when that got sorted out and we had some clarity, it’s been brilliant since then,” Davies said.
“Chappy and Chilly have been fantastic. They’ve taken to it like ducks to water and it’s a really exciting year for us.
“They’ve both been involved here for 20+ years so they’ve watched things change around them. They’re going about things how they think is best for the club and it’s been brilliant.”