When it came, Glen Chapple's 900th first-class wicket was not so very different from many of its predecessors.
An immaculate length, movement off the seam and a beaten batsman making his way forlornly towards the pavilion. Gloucestershire's Michael Klinger was in good company.
All the same, the second day of the game at Liverpool was notable even for someone so self-efffacing and unimpressed with mere statistics as Chapple. For the Lancashire skipper not only took his 900th first-class-wicket but also scored his 8,000th first-class run to keep his side slightly on top in their Division Two game against Gloucestershire. Only Johnny Briggs and Jack Simmons have taken more wickets and scored more runs for Lancashire.
Chapple's innings of 14 contributed to his side's 310 all out and he then claimed two wickets as Gloucestershire finished on 143 for four in reply, Alex Gidman leading the resistance with 54 not out. Only an hour's play was possible in the morning but the session was dominated by Gloucestershire's 18-year-old seamer Craig Miles who conceded 21 runs in his opening two overs before dismissing Simon Katich for 95, Wayne White, yorked for a golden duck, and Steven Croft for 60 in the space of 23 balls.
Craig Norwell supported Miles by removing Gareth Cross for a single as Lancashire declined from their overnight 175 for four to 232 for eight at lunch. After the interval Miles completed the second five-wicket return of his career when Chapple snicked a delivery to the safe hands of Gidman at slip. However, a very responsible and thoughtful last-wicket partnership between Kyle Hogg and Simon Kerrigan deeply frustrated the visitors' attack. The pair added 66 before Hogg was bowled by Miles for 45, but by that stage Lancashire had gained their third bonus point and the stand had kept the Gloucestershire openers in the field for 18 overs.
Miles finished with six wickets for 88, his third career-best analysis in successive matches this season following his six wicket haul against Worcestershire and his 4-83 against Hampshire. But perhaps the Gloucestershire's batsmen's exasperation at that last-wicket partnership contributed to Michael Klinger's dismissal, the visitors skipper edging Chapple to the safe hands of second slip Andrea Agathangelou in only the third over of the innings to enable the Lancashire skipper to reach the 900-wicket landmark.
“At the end of the day I'll look back and think that taking 900 wickets is a good achievement,” said Chapple. “It comes through being able to play for a long time but the next wickets that I get are the most important. When you sit back and you’re finished, all your achievements will be something to be proud of.”
Chapple didn't have to wait too long for his 901st wicket either. After Chris Dent and Dan Housego had mounted a brief recovery with a 39-run stand for the third wicket Chapple took his first step towards a thousand victims when Dent shouldered arms and was lbw for 18. Housego's loose slash on 29 then gave White his first wicket of the innings, Cross completing a good catch behind the stumps. And the Lancashire wicketkeeper pouched his second victim of the game when Hamish Marshall was caught down the leg side off Hogg for only four.
At that point, with Gloucestershire on 66 for four, Lancastrian hopes of being in a position to enforce the follow-on were quite high but Alex Gidman combined with Benny Howell in a gutsy unbroken stand of 77 for the fifth wicket, Gidman reaching his half-century off 84 balls seven overs before close of play. At the close Howell was on 32 and he and Gidman had left their side 167 runs in arrears. Home supporters, though, will take some persuading that this was anything but Chapple's day. The man himself, however, is more concerned with the situation in the game than congratulations on his own achievements.
"We're about level I think" he said. "We had a good partnership with Kyle and Simon to get us to 310 and we then had a good start to have them on 66 for four. But they've had a little partnership there and I think both teams will feel the game is evenly poised. On balance we were looking for at least 310 on that pitch but we lost wickets at important times and ended up struggling a bit. In the last session we felt that one more wicket could turn into two or three but they dug in and credit to them for that.
"The key tomorrow is early wickets as usual. I hope there'll be a bit more moisture around and we'll be refreshed and come in harder. It always does a little more when the bowlers are fresh and the batters have to get in again, so the first half hour is important. If we can get them six or seven down early on, then we're in with a good chance of taking a first innings lead."
Photo: Glen Chapple in action at Liverpool today (c) Simon Pendrigh