Will Hawkes: England's loss is Lancashire's gain as Chapple gets better with age

County Focus
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The Independent Online

When cricket fans get round to talking about those men who should have played Test cricket for England but didn't, one name is always near the top of the list: Glen Chapple. The Lancashire captain has been one of the most consistent county performers of the past 10 years but his only chance to represent his country came in a one-day match against Ireland in 2006.

Chapple, 37, says that he does not regret his lack of a Test cap but it is clear he feels a little hard done by. "There's nothing for me to regret with England because I've always gone out and done my best," he says. "I don't dwell on it. I can't say that I'm happy not to have played Test cricket for England; that would be a lie.

"But I couldn't have given any more. If anything I wish I could have played the cricket I've played over the last seven or eight years earlier on. I think I've been unlucky from then on."

Nevertheless, Chapple continues to excel for Lancashire: he has taken 19 First Division wickets at an average of just over 16 this season, which bodes well for this week's Roses match, which begins today at Aigburth. The Red Rose county will be aiming to continue a great start to the season. They are second in the First Division, with three wins from four and a game in hand.

"I'm delighted with our results," says Chapple. "I'm delighted with the way we've played, too, but I didn't expect any less because of the way we've trained. We've shown fantastic commitment – the players understand what it takes to play good four-day cricket."

Like so many other county sides, Lancashire's XI boasts more home-grown cricketers now than for many years. It is largely thanks to the likes of Gareth Cross and Karl Brown, who have enjoyed excellent starts to the season, that the team has thrived. "We've got a lot of youngsters who have come through the system, which is always a really good sign for a club," Chapple says. "It helps with team spirit. It is great to have a lot of lads from Lancashire, no doubt about that."

Another side with a strong local core is Yorkshire, who travel to Aigburth shorn of Jonny Bairstow and Ajmal Shahzad, who are with the England Lions, and Tim Bresnan, who is injured. All the same, Chapple and his team will not be taking their old rivals lightly. It is a game, Chapple says, that he looks forward to like no other. "I really enjoy it," he says. "There'll be a difference today, with the crowd. There'll be more people who've come down to watch. The atmosphere has been really good so far with the crowd so close to the pitch at Liverpool, so it should be a good game to play in.

"There's a good spirit between the two teams, there always has been. There's a real competitive edge but there's no nasty rivalry. We think they're a good side and they're run very well and they were successful last year. Hopefully we'll be strong enough to deal with them."

Chapple appears to be enjoying his cricket as much as ever and even at his advanced age there is no thought of retirement. Instead, he has his eyes on success, which might include – although he is loath to contemplate it yet – a first outright title for Lancashire since before the war. "I really enjoy playing and I've got things to work for," he says. "I want to keep improving, I'm at a club where the lads are really ambitious. Until I'm unable, there's no thought of retirement."

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