11.45am on January 17 2017 was a huge moment for Britain. At the same time as Prime Minister Theresa May was delivering her big Brexit Speech, outlining Britain’s future outside of the European Union, Lancashire were revealing the identity of their new Head Coach.
One was giving an insight into the future lives, prosperity and happiness of a great institution. Mrs May was also handing out big news.
But, in all seriousness, there seemed little need for Lancashire to make a big fanfare over an announcement that carried no surprise whatsoever. Long-serving club legends Glen Chapple and Mark Chilton were installed as Head Coach and Assistant Coach respectively, after carrying out the roles on an interim basis for the last few weeks.
They were teasing the announcement in advance, yet it was unlikely a surprise was ever going to be sprung. Few thought Jason Gillespie’s return to Australia was just a ruse, and that he really just fancied swapping one side of the Pennines for the other.
This is not to say the lack of mystery regarding the appointment means it is a poor one. Far from it, in fact.
Chapple is Lancashire through and through. Having started his career with the club aged just 18, he took 1,373 wickets in a remarkable county career and captained the Red Rose to their first County Championship title in 77 years in 2011.
He also has coaching experience, having led the side after Peter Moores’ departure in 2014. Chilton likewise is a long-serving club legend, having spent his entire career at Old Trafford, playing 196 First Class matches.
The pair are perfectly qualified to take on such a prestigious job and have all the tools and experience required to succeed.
It will not be an easy job, though. It’s been a difficult winter at Old Trafford.
Ashley Giles’ decision to leave and rejoin Warwickshire, for family reasons, is understandable on a personal level, but hasn’t helped Lancashire one bit from a professional viewpoint. Likewise the delay there was in making that decision was thoroughly unhelpful, and has left the club heading into 2017 on the back foot.
Added to the loss of Giles was the news that Alviro Petersen has been banned from cricket for covering up match-fixing by other players. He, alongside Haseeb Hameed, scored the bulk of Lancashire’s runs last season, and Hameed is likely to be absent for long periods with the England Test squad.
Lancashire narrowly avoided relegation from Division One last season, thanks to three wins in their first five matches. They didn’t win another Championship game all year, and that highlights just how tough a job Chapple and Chilton have on their hands.
It’s crucial now that Lancashire act immediately to back their new coaching team, by giving them the ammunition they need to realistically compete in Division One.
Batting was already a weakness last season and with the loss of Petersen, and the likely absence of Hameed, a couple of consistent run scorers will need to be brought into the club.
Also, the success at the start of last season was largely due to the bowling of Neil Wagner, and Lancashire struggled when he was called up by New Zealand. A bowling addition is also badly needed, to give captain Steven Croft enough firepower to realistically take 20 wickets on a regular basis.
Chapple and Chilton are a good choice as a coaching team. They will command respect from the players and know the club at every level, but they have to be given half a chance and that means some additions to the squad.
A good chef is nothing without the right ingredients. There’s no reason to believe that Chapple shouldn’t succeed as Lancashire coach, but he needs the raw materials to be able to do the job.