Glen Chapple says a club of Lancashire's stature needs to be playing top-flight LV= County Championship cricket.
The Red Rose are about to embark upon their first Division Two campaign since 2005, starting against Worcestershire at Emirates Old Trafford next Wednesday. The captain insists his troops are ready: “There is no question about that,” he stated.
Lancashire and Hampshire are the favourites to secure the two promotion places come September, but everyone knows there is a heck of a lot of hard work to be done before that is achieved and celebrated.
A quartet of winter recruits, coupled with another four progressing onto the senior staff from the Academy and Scholarship programmes, have given the squad a very healthy look. It is as big a squad as coach Peter Moores has had at his disposal since arriving at the club in 2009.
Chapple said: “Lancs is a big club, and we are back at our home ground, which is very exciting. A club as big as Lancashire needs to be in Division One. There are going to be times in its history that is not going to be the case, but it is important we mount a good challenge this year.
“Personally I don’t have many seasons left in me, and I desperately want to play in Division One. It is very important.
“It is great to get Simon Katich and Ashwell back. Simon spent a short period of time with us a few years ago, and had a good influence on the side. He is a really competitive cricketer who really loves playing.
“Ashwell (Prince) is one of us, he is good to have around, and he is a world-class batsmen. Wayne White looks a good all-rounder, while Kabir Ali is a proven class bowler.
“There are times when it is nice to make a big signing, it shows your intent to be successful. We have got a lot of younger players who are now pushing to get into the side as well now, so there is a lot of competition.
“We want it to be difficult for players to get in the side. It makes people hungry and committed and focussed on what you want to do.”
Chapple is preparing for his 22nd season in first-class cricket. He is closing in on 900 first-class wickets and 8,000 runs, but has plenty more milestones to break before he hangs up those bowling boots and batting pads.
“You are a long time finished. You spend 20 years trying to get good at something, and you don’t want to let that go,” he added. “I feel good physically. The mentality and commitment of the younger players is fantastic, and they drag the older players along with them, so you find yourself in better shape year on year. Age will catch up eventually, but I like to pretend it is not doing for now.
“I have no real targets, but I never want to start the season thinking it is my last one. If it is my last one, it will become apparent at some stage. But I won’t go into the season thinking it because it can be damaging to you. I am optimistic I can play on, but I am also aware I have played for a long time.
“I want to still be playing when I’m 40, and that is next year. We will see. If you struggle to get in the team, that is one pointer. If you struggle to get out of bed in the morning, that’s another! At the moment I feel great, and I hope it continues.”
Even so, Chapple has been looking to the future by completing his coaching badges. He is now a qualified level four coach, enabling him to take on any coaching job in world cricket in theory.
“I want to go into coaching. Over the last ten years, I have gained an awful lot of good experience, and the captaincy has been a great help to me as a potential future coach. It is something that has interested me more as I have been given more responsibility,” he added.
For now, Chapple has a more important job to do on the field. Everyone connected with Lancashire hopes it can be achieved.
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