Chapple left with decisions to make

The Red Rose had a lifeline going into the final day of the County Championship season at home to Middlesex - but the Londoners closed out the stalemate they needed to send their hosts down and stay up themselves.

Chapple had kept Lancashire in with a chance when he scrambled an extra batting bonus point 24 hours earlier. But he and his team were unable to break the opposition resistance in a total of 341 for eight declared, which meant there was no time in the end to even start a run chase.

It was an outcome which left Middlesex director of cricket Angus Fraser speaking of his "relief" and "pride" after the 'longest four days of his life'.

For Chapple, the prospect of Division Two cricket again next year is only half the problem.

In the 23rd year of his professional playing career, he was pressed into service too as a coach after Peter Moores left for a second stint in charge of England .

When Chapple was asked about his playing future and the feasibility of combining the roles of captain and coach, he was diplomatic.

There was a telling hint too, though, that he will think long and hard before he signs up for the twin assignment again in 2015.

"It's a difficult question. It's not the ideal," he said.

"What I would say is this year has been a very good learning curve."

As for continuing his playing career, the 40-year-old all-rounder added: "I genuinely don't know.

"I still enjoy playing and feel pretty decent.

"I've not had as good a season as I'd have liked. But I don't think that's through age necessarily, and I felt good this game and really enjoyed it."

There will be questions too for Fraser to address in the winter months - with the expected absence of captain Chris Rogers, on Ashes duty for Australia, at the top of the agenda.

"We're in limbo," Fraser said.

"We've been very lucky we've had Chris Rogers for the last four years - he's been magnificent as a player and a captain - but there's a very good chance of him being away next year.

"We've got to fill that role, which is something that will occupy a lot of our time.

"But to come through tough times like this is very satisfying.

"I think the blokes will be glowing as they drive down the M6 back to London tonight."

Elsewhere on the last day of the season, across the Pennines in Leeds, champions Yorkshire had to settle for a draw as Somerset finished on 151 for nine in pursuit of 182 to win - after the visitors' Peter Trego had taken a career-best seven for 84 and 11 wickets in the match.

Opener Luke Wells hit 162 in the draw away to already-relegated Northamptonshire which confirmed Sussex in third place, and in Division Two Gloucestershire beat Kent by 244 runs at Canterbury.

  Glen Chapple has much to ponder
Glen Chapple has much to ponder