Gleeson not looking back after whirlwind start to late career

Gleeson not looking back after whirlwind start to late career

Richard Gleeson of Northants poses for a picture with the Royal London One-Day Cup

Richard Gleeson has taken the route less travelled to the top of the domestic game.

But now he has arrived, the 30-year-old seamer has no interest in stopping there.

As a raw fast bowler, Gleeson was never on the books of a single first-class county academy – and didn’t even play his first Minor Counties game until he was 22, back in 2010.

But while the likes of Gary Pratt and Steven Croft both offered words of encouragement to the young seamer – a breakthrough was not forthcoming.

He was invited to train with Durham, Warwickshire and Northants – and played Second XI cricket for all three – but still the waiting continued until 2015.

“It has been a whirlwind three years,” said Gleeson – who this spring was picked to play in the Caribbean for the England Lions.

“2015 was just another season for me concentrating on trying to win the league with Blackpool and Cumberland.

“It has been a slightly different route. At 27, you think your time has probably passed. I was just happy playing minor counties and working, coaching in schools.

“I played a handful of games at different counties but it was a minor county game against James Middlebrook who spotted me and said he thought I had something so I got a chance with Northants.

“I don’t think at any point I thought this was going to be my big break. I was content in what I was doing so I just wanted to enjoy the experience and give it a go.

“That was when I started to think, I am OK at this level! I have a chance to try and do something.

“With 2016 going really well, I got the contract and never looked back. I just have to keep doing what I am doing how see how far I can get.”

Jack Shantry, Darren Stevens and Richard Gleeson at Lord’s ahead of the RLODC

Speak to players across the County Championship last season and they will tell you that Gleeson can go pretty far.

He is one of the quickest on the circuit, but there is also control to go with all that natural speed – Gleeson took 40 wickets in Division Two at an average of only 18.62 last year.

“I would have loved to have broken through a bit sooner, getting those higher honours and being to be involved with the North-South and Lions make me wish I had got in sooner and have a bit longer to try and play international cricket,” he added.

“But never say never, and I think it does hold me in good stead. Now I know what I am trying to do with the ball, I am not too muddled with the ball and the decision I make. So that gives me an advantage.”

The next shop window for the seamer will come in the Royal London One-Day Cup that gets underway this week.
Gleeson and Northants open up against local rivals Leicestershire and it is a competition that means a great deal to the seamer.

“The Royal London One-Day Cup is a competition very close to my heart, it is where I played my first white-ball cricket with Northants a couple of years ago,” he added.

“And it is all about trying to get to Lord’s to play in a big final at a great ground with a lot of history prestige, every player dreams of playing here.

“We were a bit unfortunate last year with a few injuries, I missed most of the competition.

“Especially with the World Cup next year, a lot of people are trying to put their hand up, stake a claim and impress for next summer.

“A local derby first up, we always want to try and get one over them and if you start well it puts you in good stead.”

Royal London, proud sponsors of one-day cricket, celebrating unconventional greatness in the game by championing the independent spirit of players like Northamptonshire Steelbacks’ Richard Gleeson. The Royal London One-Day Cup returns on 17th May.

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