Glen Chapple expressed surprise and delight on being named as one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year.
This signal honour for the Lancashire captain comes after a summer in which he led his team to their first County Championship in 77 years and in which he proved once again that he is one of the best fast-medium bowlers in the land.
"It's a great honour and something usually reserved for international cricketers," said Chapple. "I'm surprised, but really pleased."
The captain of Lancashire has just begun his 21st season of first-class cricket. He has taken 841 wickets, 804 of them when wearing the Red Rose. In 2011 he dismissed 55 wickets at 19.8 runs apiece. Some players are feted by the cricketers' bible for an annus mirabilis, others for a cursus mirabilis. In Chapple's case, it is surely both.
At Taunton last September he seemed to adapt George Orwell's slogan from Animal Farm: "Two legs, good; one leg, still possible" he thundered, as he ran in from the River Tone End, utterly intent on doing whatever was needed to win that blooming title at last.
"Glen never spares himself if his county needs him," wrote the late Roy Tattersall in his foreword to the book which chronicled Lancashire's title. "I think it was sheer determination which helped him to bowl those overs with an injured hamstring in the last match against Somerset and that’s something any good cricketer respects."
And now the most famous cricket book in the world has offered its respects too. "Wisden 1, England Selectors 0" Lancashire supporters might be mumuring this evening in the pubs of the Ribble valley. Chapple himself is long past such concerns. He was told about his honour last autumn but was told to keep schtum about it.
"It had half gone to the back of my mind because it was so long ago and I thought it would be nice if it was a surprise for people," he said. "Anyway I've managed to keep my trap shut. I do what I'm told."
As for the award itself, Chapple is deeply appreciative and self-effacing about it all.
"It was a surprise to find out to be honest," he said. "Obviously it's a great honour and something usually reserved for international cricketers. I'm really pleased. It's a testament to how the lads have played as a team. My performances on their own wouldn't have won me this award, so I put it down to a great team effort this last year."
"Possibly," he replied, when it was gently suggested to him that the award might indeed be a tribute to his cricket and the way he has conducted himself over the years. "I've had a long career which I'm thankful for and which I've enjoyed immensely. Hopefully it'll carry on for some time. So yeah, if that's the case, brilliant, but it's still a surprise because you look at some of the people who've won it. And the other four who've won it this year, - whoever they are - will be higher profile players than myself."
For the record, the other four Cricketers of the Year are Alastair Cook, Tim Bresnan, Kumar Sangakkara and Alan Richardson. Chapple is in good company. So are they.
"I wouldn't think I've set an example more than anyone else," he said, "but as you get older, it's pretty obvious that that is what you should be doing. People's actions rub off on each other and equally how our young players go about their business rubs off on me and gives me the motivation to want to carry on.
"If you play professional cricket you realise that nothing less than your best will be good enough, but to have a good team you all have to rub off on each other."
And so when Chapple leads Lancashire out to defend their title at Aigburth he will do so as a member of one of the game's more exclusive clubs.
But does he even purchase a copy of Wisden each April? "I'm hoping I might not have to buy it this year," he replied. And he is quite correct, for he receives an inscribed leather-bound edition of the book. It will be presented to him when Lancashire play Middlesex at Lord's on June 10th.
"That'll be great," he enthused. "I'll have a bookcase built."
Photo (c) Simon Pendrigh
Article (c) Lancashire CCC