Northants fast bowler Richard Gleeson says it’s a ‘phenomenal feeling’ after he was called up to the England Lions squad for their tour to the West Indies.
The 30-year-old pace-ace has been a star performer for the County since they plucked him from Minor Counties cricket in the summer of 2015, making his debut in a tour match against Australia at the County Ground.
Gleeson went on to land a contract with Northants, and has become one of the first names on the teamsheet for County coach David Ripley in all forms of the game.
A genuine fast bowler, Blackpool-born Gleeson was playing for Cumberland in the Minor Counties until he was given his chance by Northants, and was working with as a community coach with the Lancashire Cricket Board until 2016 before taking up a full-time cricket career at Wantage Road.
Gleeson had already been called into the North squad for the North versus South Series in Barbados next month, and is stunned to now get an international chance, saying: “I’m absolutely delighted.
“I was sat having dinner out with a few of the lads when James Whitaker (England chairman of selectors) rang.
“Rips (David Ripley) had said that Andy Flower (England Lions coach) had been in touch on Thursday night to enquire about my availability, but to actually get the call was just a phenomenal feeling.
“Just over a year ago I was working as a community coach up at Lancs so to get the opportunity to play for my country is a dream come true, though something I never thought could actually happen.”
It is a first Lions call for Gleeson, who replaces the injured Sussex left-armer George Garton.
Garton is heading home from the tour after aggravating a side injury in the preparations for the Lions’ warm-up match against a Jamaica XI at Sabina Park, in which he bowled only five overs.
Gleeson will take Garton’s place for both the red-ball and white-ball sections of the Lions tour in Antigua and Jamaica, although he will not arrive in time to be considered for the first four-day match against West Indies A which starts in Trelawny on Sunday.
Also in the Lions squad are the likes of Toby Roland-Jones, Keaton Jennings, Mason Crane, Ben Foakes, Liam Livingstone and Haseeb Hameed.
The call-up is a deserved one for the fast bowler, who has taken 57 wickets in 16 first-class matches for Northants, at an average of 24.91.
In 50-over cricket he has claimed 18 wickets at little more than 30 from 15 matches, and in T20 he has snared 27 wickets in 25 matches, with an impresive strike-rate of a wicket every 19 balls.