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Age no concern for Chapple

By Liam Blackburn

The old adage is that life begins at 40 and there is no sign of Glen Chapple slowing down any time soon as he embarks on a 23rd season with Lancashire.

There may have been 40 candles on Chapple's birthday cake this January but, despite being two decades older than team-mates such as wicketkeeper Alex Davies, the right-arm seamer is as excited as ever to captain the Red Rose in the top flight once more.

And there is no sign of decline in the Lancashire skipper's performance either.

Chapple has claimed 50 first-class wickets in three of the previous four English summers and has returned an average which has hovered around the 20-mark for most of the last decade.

If he continues to produce at such a level the looming landmark of 1,000 first-class wickets, which is just 64 scalps away, will be realised, putting the Skipton-born bowler in an exclusive club alongside some all-time greats.

Asked by if the thought of reaching such a total had entered his thoughts, Chapple said: "A little bit, I'd be lying if I said it didn't, but it's a long way off still.

"It's a very, very good season away. If I have that kind of season then I will have done a good job for the team so they go hand in hand. A more realistic aim is for success as a team and then anything else that comes is great."

The Red Rose's fortunes in LV= County Championship Division One may well hinge on Chapple, who missed their season-opening loss to Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.

Lancashire's Glen Chapple is just 64 wickets away from claiming 1,000 first-class victims, but he said: "It's a very, very good season away."

Lancashire coach Peter Moores last year revealed Chapple is known as 'Benjamin Button' in the Old Trafford dressing room, a reference to a character from F. Scott Fitzgerald's book who ages in reverse.

"There are 65-year-olds who would still play if they could," Chapple adds.

"Professional sport is a game enjoyed by all age ranges; it's just unfortunate you can only play when you're young. If you're lucky enough to carry on for a bit longer then that's great."

The fact Chapple has blossomed in his advancing years, rather than declined, is a testament to the type of dedicated work he does in the winter and between games.

He explains: "It's not easy but I don't know if it's easy for anyone nowadays because we work hard.

"We always worked hard but there's different kinds of training, a lot of it is more power-based and more speed-based. As you get older you see the young lads tearing away from you and it can be a little bit frustrating, I suppose.

"But ultimately your performances are on the pitch and that's what counts. All the training is to help you get the best performance on the field.

"We do a lot of pool therapy, just things to maybe prevent injury. We do a little bit of yoga, I'd like to do more, but I've been doing that for six or seven years now. That has helped me retain flexibility - anything you think can give you a bit more of an edge."

"All teams in the first division are strong and there's probably quite a few with an ambition to win the title," Chapple, who won it in 2011, said

Having seen just about everything in those 22 previous campaigns, there are probably few people better placed to judge who will succeed Durham as this year's Division One winners.

However, Chapple is also well aware that early-season predictions can be made to look foolish come September.

"All teams in the first division are strong and there's probably quite a few with an ambition to win the title so it makes the start very important," added Chapple, who lifted the Division One trophy in 2011 after the county's 77-year wait for an outright triumph.

"Year on year it's quite an open division. If you want to you can start making cases for different teams on paper and that's all very well, but there's always teams who come up on the blind-side and start really performing and gaining momentum throughout the season."

Chapple would like nothing more than to be holding a trophy in Lancashire colours this summer, but it would not necessarily provide the perfect excuse to bow out.

"It is one season at a time but I don't feel different to five years ago in those terms," he points out.

"We'll see just how it goes. I really enjoy playing and if I'm physically able to be at my best then I would like to carry on."

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