It wasn’t an easy winter for Lancashire last season, losing head coach and Director of Cricket Ashley Giles as well as a number of key players, but Glen Chapple took it all in his stride.
25 years on from his Lancashire debut, Chapple was already part of the furniture at Old Trafford when he took on the role of head coach at the start of the season, and there seemed to be no better person to take the club forward.
Alongside fellow club stalwart Mark Chilton, Chapple has guided Lancashire to an impressive second place in Division One of the County Championship, as well as overseeing the development of a number of young players throughout the course of the season.
Speaking after the final game of the season, a victory over Surrey at Old Trafford, Chapple reflected on his first season in charge.
“It’s a learning curve getting used to being a coach, but on the whole I’ve loved it,” he said.
“It’s completely different to playing. There’s nothing you can do about it, you can’t strap your pads on so you just have to take a deep breath at times. You’ve got to remember that it’s the players who win you games.
“Personally it’s been a challenge just trying to stay calm throughout the course of a full season. Ultimately as a coach you’re helpless. So you’ve just got to get over that feeling. You’re so used to being able to do something about it.”
The changes to the structure of the two divisions of the County Championship for this season meant that two teams out of the eight in Division One would be relegated.
That put extra pressure on a Lancashire side that narrowly avoided the drop at the end of last season, and placed them as one of the firm favourites to go down this year.
Chapple is not entirely convinced that the proportion of teams now relegated from the top tier is good for the game.
“If you’re in the coaching game, two down out of eight is not comfortable,” the 43-year-old said.
“25% of the division going down is not a comfortable place to be. If it’s good for the game, that’s a different question but for a coach that’s an uncomfortable number.
“I think Division One has been competitive for a long time. Two down out of nine was arguably a lot. Two out of eight is certainly a lot.
“Competition is one thing, I think we have to look at a balance of making the division competitive and looking to develop players as well. That’s something for other people to talk about.”
Chapple’s first-class career spanned from his debut in 1992 to his last appearance in 2013, taking a mammoth 985 wickets.
That experience as a player at the club has formed part of his style as a coach, with a number of players applauding his approach of a player-led coaching style.
But Chapple admits he has had to tailor his approach to meet the needs of some of his dressing room, while admitting that there are perks to no longer being a player.
“It’s quite nice to sit back at 11am, watch the lads and go and make a brew after 24 years of strapping your boots on – that takes its toll.
“It’s important to remember the stresses of playing as well. I still get a little bit nervous before the games.
“Most coaches found this season quite stressful. But we believe in them because they are good players and at the end of the day our destiny is down to the players.
“I remember as a player I would always say we were going to win the league this year. I like to look right to the end of things.
“But I knew two or three players don’t like it when you say that. At the start of this season I wanted to win the first game and then the second game. I was looking more short term.”
Despite being 43 and not having played a match for Lancashire since 2013, Chapple has still not officially said he’s retired from playing.
So is there still a chance we could see him pull on the Red Rose shirt again?
“I think it’s pretty unrealistic,” he laughed.
“You might find me popping up at a league ground every now and again. Rather than retire I think I’ll just fade into the background!”