Gleeson five-for gives Lancs advantage
Richard Gleeson took his first five-wicket haul for Lancashire, and was well backed up by four wickets from Graham Onions, to give the Red Rose side the advantage over Northants on the opening day of this Specsavers County Championship match at Emirates Old Trafford.
The 31 year-old seamer posted figures of 5-53 to register his sixth first-class cricket ‘five-for’ following his return to the side for the first time this season after injury. Lancashire, showing four changes to the side that opened the four-day campaign a month ago at Lord’s with Steven Croft, and Liam Livingstone being joined by new overseas batsman Joe Burns, ended the day on 29-1 trailing by 201 runs.
The visitors arguably had the better of the morning exchanges after being put in to bat with Ricardo Vasconcelos and Rob Newton playing steadily during the first hour before Gleeson’s introduction into the attack. The former Northants seamer struck twice, making the initial breakthrough when Vasconcelos edged a loose shot behind to Dane Vilas after making 23 while Alex Wakely, pushing forward, nicked an edge to the Lancashire wicketkeeper/captain to depart for 2.
The visitors would have been happy to reach lunch on 80-2 with Newton and Temba Bavuma, making his Northants debut as overseas player and evoking memories-for older Lancashire members perhaps-of the diminutive Harry Pilling, adding 36 without undue alarm but that quickly changed during the first hour of the afternoon.
Gleeson nipped one back to trap Newton lbw for 32, and followed that with a similar ball and result to dismiss Rob Keogh for 3. Josh Cobb drove hard at his second ball but was brilliantly caught at gully by Rob Jones diving to his left to give Tom Bailey his first wicket while Onions piled on the misery for Northants with the big wicket of Bavuma, lbw for 39, to leave the visitors struggling on 119-6.
Luke Procter and loan signing Luke Wood responded in positive fashion, the pair battling away through the majority of the afternoon to add 70 runs for the seventh wicket but, with tea just moments away, Procter edged his attempted drive to slip to give Gleeson his fifth victim, the former Red Rose all-rounder departing for 48 with Northants 190-7.
Wood went on after the break to reach his fifth first-class half century from 78 balls but Onions (4-45) finished things off quickly taking the remaining three wickets, including two in one over, to bowl Northants out for 230 with Wood last out for 66 after holing out to Bailey at deep fine leg.
Lancashire lost Haseeb Hameed for 7 when the opener nicked a Ben Sanderson delivery behind to Vasconcelos but Keaton Jennings (16 not out) and Burns (6 not out) safely negotiated their way through to stumps.
Richard Gleeson, who was playing in just his third four-day game for Lancashire and making his home debut today, was naturally delighted with how the day had gone.
“It’s always nice to get your first ‘five-for’ for the club,” he said. “I’m really pleased with that, especially after being out with a few injuries.“
And he admitted to a few nerves at the start of his first game at home.
“I suppose there were at the start of the day,” he said. “It’s a great ground, and there was decent crowd here in nice weather so it was good to get off to a good start.
Gleeson was full of praise for the rest of the bowling attack.
“I thought Bails and Saqib bowled brilliantly,” he said. “Saqib didn’t get the rewards and I think I managed to prosper where he was unfortunate.
“As a quartet I thought we bowled brilliantly. We wanted to bowl first so all in all it was a good day.”
Despite only taking two wickets in the morning session, Gleeson revealed there was not too much disappointment in the dressing room at lunch.
“We had a sit down before we went back out, and we felt that we could have had three of four down (before lunch),” he said.
“We thought we’d bowled well, so we just kept to those same plans and we reaped the rewards.”
Five wickets in the following session were a testament to the collective effort in the afternoon and Gleeson said: “The wicket’s quite good, you’ve got to bowl tight lines and not give anything away. We bowled well as a unit and piled on the pressure.
“There was a little bit of nip and nibble in the wicket. There’s no real swing so you’ve got to bowl pretty straight. Give yourself the best chance of bowling people out or getting lbws.”
“It’s been a great day and hopefully we can push on and bat long tomorrow.”
Photos: Barry Mitchell
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