Gleeson shines as Lancs make Leics follow-on
Lancashire have put themselves in the driving seat after making Leicestershire follow-on with the visitors 5-1 in their second innings, still 156 runs behind after three days of Specsavers County Championship action at Aigburth.
After taking five wickets in the morning session the Red Rose attack were held up during the afternoon with a fine partnership between Callum Parkinson and Dieter Klein.
The pair combined with a 119-run partnership either side of tea having come together with the Foxes struggling on 150-7. Their excellent partnership spanned 30 overs until Richard Gleeson made the breakthrough trapping Parkinson lbw for 37.
And with Leicestershire 12 runs away from being asked to bat a second time, Gleeson struck twice in four balls; Klein lbw after making a determined 87 and Mohammad Abbas caught behind with Leicestershire 288 all out.
Graham Onions then bowled nightwatchman Chris Wright via a bottom edge for 0 when the Foxes batted a second time and the day finished at 6.30pm with Leicestershire on 5-1.
That capped an excellent outing with the ball by the Lancashire bowlers who had made early inroads into the Leicestershire top order at the start of the day.
“It was tough out there and a long day with the extra overs,” said Richard Gleeson.
“And we only had three frontline seamers when we’ve been going with four so far this season.
“So it was tough, but great to bowl them out and get another one down tonight.”
Gleeson admitted the afternoon had proved a difficult one.
“I think we got a little bit frustrated and went away our plans,” he said. “We bowled a bit short but we managed to regroup and get back on it and bowl them out before the follow-on.”
In the morning Onions struck first having Hassan Azad lbw for 4 before two wickets by Tom Bailey reduced the visitors to 17-3. Neil Dexter gave a regulation catch to Keaton Jennings at first slip and Bailey followed that success with a superb one-handed diving catch off his own bowling after Paul Horton, on 11, inside-edged onto his pads with the ball ballooning back to the bowler.
Colin Ackermann, dropped the in slips off Gleeson on 10, only managed to add seven more runs to his score before edging the Blackpool-born fast bowler to wicketkeeper Dane Vilas and Harry Dearden departed on the stroke of lunch after edging Liam Livingstone to Jennings at slip for 2 to leave Leicestershire struggling on 82-5.
That put the onus on Mark Cosgrove, and the left-handed batsman responded with a solid innings to become the lynchpin of the Foxes’ innings during the afternoon, having the odd stroke of good fortune but in the main defending well and then putting away any stray deliveries with some trademark drives and pulls.
But the Australian’s 160 minute stay at the crease was ended by Onions midway through the day when he was lbw for 70 to leave Leicestershire on 132-6.
Harry Swindells, on debut, had given Cosgrove solid support during their 50 run partnership but the Leicestershire wicketkeeper was the next to depart after making a good 37 when he inside edged Livingstone, who bowled unchanged from the Pavilion End during the entire afternoon session, onto his pads with Jennings taking the catch diving forward from short leg.
Livingstone had completed 27 overs unchanged taking 2-45 before making way once Lancashire took the new ball after 80 overs and Gleeson returned to cap a fine day, finishing with figures of 4-58.
And Gleeson was full of praise for Livingstone for his marathon spell.
“It’s massive for us three to rotate from one end and have him keep it tight and also be a threat, picking up vital wickets at the other end.
But the fast bowler had one piece of advice for the spinner.
“He just needs to slow down a bit because you don’t get much rest when he’s bowling!” he laughed.
Looking ahead to the final day Gleeson warned: “The hard work isn’t done. They’ve shown they can bat a full day and it looks like we might have to bat again tomorrow if the pitch plays in a similar fashion.
“I think it’s going to be tough ask. We scored 449, they got 288, and losing that day isn’t going to have helped us.
“But I think it was quite important to at least bowl them out.
“The pitch is quite bouncy and I thought the heavy roller they used actually quickened it up at the end. It was doing a little bit in that last four over period. I think you have to bowl a little bit fuller from the River End.
“There is a bit of turn there. There’s encouragement if you put it in the right areas, so fingers crossed we can get the job done tomorrow.”
Gleeson’s four wickets today have taken his first-class haul this season to 21 wickets and he said:
“It’s not a bad start, but I’ll take a few more.
“(You) turn up, and try to do the right things. Sometimes it hasn’t come quite as nicely, sometimes you get the wickets. I’ll just keep bashing away.
“I’ve missed a lot of cricket in the past, so while you are on the park you’ve got to try and stay fit.
“We’ve got a great bowling attack, so it’s a good thing we can rotate and keep fresh. Saqib has missed out here and he bowled beautifully last week.
“There’s always pressure on you, and you have to get it right and be doing the right things.”
Photos: Barry Mitchell
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