Blackpool Cricket Club seamer Richard Gleeson has been reflecting happily on a career-changing week.
Gleeson has fulfilled a long-held ambition to become a full-time cricketer on the County Championship circuit and is determined to make the most of the opportunity at the age of 28.
A successful stint for Cumberland caught the eye of Northamptonshire scouts, principally James Middlebrook, who used to play for the Wantage Road club.
Gleeson said: “I think they’ve got a good scouting system in the Minor Counties.
“It was through James Middlebrook spotting me, playing against Bedfordshire for Cumberland, where I did all right.
“I came into the Northants second XI last season and did quite well and I was lucky enough to play in the Australia game last year, which was a great experience.
“I’ve got lucky with a couple of injuries this season and now I’ve got a place in the team.
“It was unfortunate for the guys who did get injured but I’ve prospered from that.”
Gleeson has signed a three-year deal with Northants and has wasted little time in making an impact, particularly for the county’s Steelbacks side in the NatWest T20 Blast.
That was never more apparent than in the recent home match against Leicestershire, taking three wickets in the six-wicket win. It has taken Gleeson no time at all to settle into a format that can be punitive for bowlers at times.
Injuries to team-mates Rory Kleinveldt and Olly Stone gave him an opportunity and it is one that he has grabbed with both hands to help maintain Northants’ good form in the competition.
His economy rate has been low but wickets are what bowlers are ultimately judged on,
Gleeson said: “I was very nervous on the first go (in the T20) against Worcestershire last month but 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.
“You’re told how to get out certain batsmen – that helps and I’ve settled in because the guys have looked after me really well.
“I’m in good rhythm, I’m hitting my marks well, bowling to the plans and executing them, so I’m happy with the way it’s working out.”
Before getting his contract, Gleeson had been working for the Lancashire Cricket Board as a community coach.
He paid tribute to the board for their help in paving the way for his permanent deal at Northants, who host Notts Outlaws in the T20 tonight.
He said: “The Lancasahire Cricket Board have been brilliant with me. They said any time I needed off, they’d cover for me because they’ve got a good group of casual coaches who covered my (work)load.”