Chapple pins hopes on Hampshire
Glen Chapple admitted events 100 miles east of Taunton took the gloss of what had been a “terrific” day for title-chasing Lancashire.
The captain was, quite rightly, beaming with pride after his side, needing to beat Somerset to stand any chance of LV= County Championship glory, moved into a position from which they should wrap up victory tomorrow.
They powered on to 480 before reducing Somerset to 105 for five in their second innings, giving the hosts a lead of just five heading into the final day of an emotionally draining season.
Lancashire could have done little more in this game, but Warwickshire, for whom victory would secure the title, are well placed to achieve the feat tomorrow.
It seems a tad unfair to be discussing matters on the south coast after such an impressive Lancashire display, but even Chapple conceded that news of the loss of three early Hampshire wickets late on had “ruined my evening”.
“We’ve not slipped from our focus, and you can't affect games 100 miles away,” he stressed. “We're still keen for Hampshire to do well.
“They’re a good batting side and it’s a good pitch. We’ve just got to get on with our stuff and hope that's enough.”
The standing ovation afforded Lancashire’s players at the close of play was testament to the way they performed with bat and ball.
Resuming on 247 for three, they were thankful for Steven Croft’s 54, a timely 46 from Kyle Hogg, an unexpected 40 from Simon Kerrigan, who added 57 with Gary Keedy for the last wicket, and contributions from every other player.
Every member of the side reached double figures - for only the second time in Lancashire’s history.
“It was a terrific day with the bat,” said Chapple. “To get 400 and that last batting point thanks to a terrific last partnership between Simon and Keeds was superb.”
Hogg followed up Chapple’s early dismissal of Arul Suppiah by striking twice in as many overs, before Keedy and Kerrigan, the left-arm spinners, claimed the key wickets of James Hildreth and Jos Buttler.
“On that pitch, to take three (wickets) with the new ball was a great effort. To get them five down, effectively 5-5, we’re on top,” added Chapple, who continues to defy the obvious pain of a suspected torn hamstring that has had him limping since the first morning.
“I didn’t expect to be able to bowl, to be honest, but sometimes a very good physio can offload the pain.
“I’ve got some serious strapping on and I've been on some painkillers. I don't know how I'll pull up tomorrow, but, fingers crossed, I'll be able to go again.
“We've got a lot to do because it's still a good pitch. But we've got to make sure we deliver our stuff as well as we can.
“We're confident and very positive about our own game. Our commitment is probably the best thing we've got.”
Should Lancashire complete victory tomorrow but miss out on the title, they will do so despite winning 10 championship games this summer.
Whether it eases the pain of finishing runners-up for the sixth time in the last 14 seasons remains to be seen, but Chapple insists he and his team-mates can take immense heart from their 2011 campaign.
“If someone offers you 10 wins at the start of the season, you'd bite their hand off; we would next season as well,” he said. “Whatever happens, if we do win tomorrow we'll have had a great year.”