Glen Chapple remained the scourge of Essex batting throughout his first-class career. One of his finest hours came in the 1996 Natwest Trophy final at Lord’s, where the Lancashire quick helped his side to defend a modest 186 with an astounding margin of 129 runs.
Essex must be sick of the sight of Glen Chapple. He’s taken 77 wickets against them over the years, the most recent batch of which coming in June when Lancashire’s veteran seamer took eight in a Championship fixture, including a second-innings haul of 5-9, as Essex were obliterated for 20 – the lowest score in their history.
It would have brought back unhappy memories for Essex coach Paul Grayson, who was part of the team skittled for 57 in a NatWest Trophy final 17 years previously, with a 22-year-old Chapple again their chief tormentor.
Essex were red-hot favourites as they began their chase, having bowled out Lancs for 186 with Grayson and Ronnie Irani taking three wickets apiece. But with plenty of movement on offer for the seamers both in the air and off the pitch, the Red Rose had a sniff. Peter Martin set the ball rolling, making expert use of the new nut to dismiss Grayson, Nasser Hussain – to a screamer of a one-handed catch by Warren Hegg – and Paul Prichard inside the first 15 overs and leave Essex 29-3. From there on in, it was all Chapple.
Irani was his first, bowled by an unplayable daisy-cutter, before Darren Robinson chased a wide one and guided the ball into the hands of Neil Fairbrother at slip. The next was the pick of the bunch; a jaffer that pitched on middle and zipped away down the slope to knock back Robert Rollins’ off stump. Rollins could only grin back at Chapple as he heard the death rattle, as if to say, ‘How am I supposed to keep that out?’
Graham Gooch soon followed, lbw to a gentle seamer from Jason Gallian to bring an end to an hour-long vigil that yielded 10 runs, and that effectively extinguished any lingering hopes Essex may have had of reaching their target. Chapple finished the job emphatically, trapping Mark Ilott lbw before cleaning up Ashley Cowan and Peter Such in successive deliveries, to finish with the stunning figures of 6-18. It was a performance that confirmed the youngster’s status as one of county cricket’s most formidable seamers. Two decades later, he still sits squarely in that bracket.
First published in August 2013