Gleeson loving life at Northants as he grabs his big chance

Often, the ones who seize the chance afforded to them are the ones who relish it the most.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 30th June 2016, 7:00 am
Richard Gleeson took three wickets in the win against Leicestershire last weekend (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)
Richard Gleeson took three wickets in the win against Leicestershire last weekend (picture: Kirsty Edmonds)

And that is certainly the case for late bloomer RIchard Gleeson, who, at the age of 28, is finally making his mark in county cricket.

It has taken him some time to get into the professional game, but he now appears to be here to stay.

Northants are set to offer the part-timer a permanent deal, and Gleeson has more than earned it.

He was the star of the show last Sunday, taking three wickets for the loss of just 20 runs in a stunning four-over spell that set the Steelbacks up for six-wicket NatWest T20 Blast victory against Leicestershire Foxes.

His performance in that match, and others, including a strong display against a Yorkshire Vikings side packed with England players earlier this month, is made all the more impressive by his current situation.

Gleeson has been earning his corn with a day job as a community coach at the Lancashire Cricket Board, who have kindly allowed him to have as much time off as he needs to pursue his professional dream.

But it has not been easy, with the right-arm medium bowler forced to make regular trips between his home up north, Northampton and whichever away games he is required for.

Nevertheless, he has shown no signs of mental or physical fatigue, instead providing a bowling option that has earned appreciation from team-mates, coaches and fans alike.

“Richard Gleeson has come in from the cold in some respects but he’s now he’s leading our attack and doing a great job for us,” said Northants head coach David Ripley.

“He’s been good for weeks, he’s an excellent bowler and a good lad.”

And it is clear that at the root of Gleeson’s success is a strong desire to succeed. To take that golden opportunity now it has finally arrived.

“I’m loving it,” he said. “What’s better than following your dream?

“I’ve been back up to work and now I’m looking forward to the game at Edgbaston on Friday.”

Gleeson looks set to be in the side for the top-of-the table clash with Birmingham Bears on Friday night.

Northants can open up a gap at the summit of the North Group, where they and the Bears are locked on points but separated by the Steelbacks’ superior run rate.

And Edgbaston is yet another stage on which Gleeson can showcase his obvious talents.

“Birmingham are a good side and it will be a great experience to play there,” he said.

“The crowd will be on our backs so it won’t be as nice as playing here at the County Ground, but it’s another new experience for me and fingers crossed we can get the win.

“Our players have got some good and bad memories at Edgbaston but hopefully it can be a good day this week.”

Gleeson, who was recommended to Northants by James Middlebrook, who had seen him play for Cumberland against Bedfordshire, will rely on the experience of his team-mates, some of whom won the T20 final at Edgbaston in 2013 and lost in the showpiece there last year.

He said: “I was very nervous on the first go in the T20 stuff, but against Worcestershire Rapids, I thought I held my own.

“It’s good to have some senior players who have got a lot of experience in that format to help you through it and guide you and give you little tips and advise field settings and stuff like that.

“You’re told how to get about certain batsmen – that always helps and I’ve settled in because the guys have looked after me really well.

“I feel in good rhythm, I’m hitting my marks well and bowling to the plans and executing them, so I’m pretty happy with the way it’s coming out.”

And whatever the result at Edgbaston on Friday and at Derbyshire Falcons on Sunday, Gleeson will just be glad to be part of it all after years of trying.