Richard Gleeson: It's always been a dream to play for Lancashire
Lancashire bowler talks about his move from Northants
Richard Gleeson has described his move home to Lancashire as “a dream”. A Blackpool-born fast bowler who could not catch the attention of his home county as a junior, he finally pulled on the red rose after signing from Northants at the end of last season.
The 30-year-old has signed a three-year deal at Emirates Old Trafford and debuted at the end of the 2018 campaign, playing the last two County Championship matches in a bid to help avoid relegation. He took six wickets on his first appearance against Roses rivals Yorkshire.
Not as a player, but Gleeson was on Lancashire’s staff prior to breaking into county cricket. He was a Lancashire Cricket Board coach in the Fylde area.
“This is obviously the county I’ve grown up watching,” he said. “My family were heavily involved at Blackpool, and it’s a massive occasion when the county go there. It’s always been a dream to play for Lancashire.
“I particularly remember watching Mike Atherton get his 268 there (against Glamorgan in 1999) to get him back in the England team.”
Gleeson played all his league cricket at Stanley Park, although admits: “I never did anything at Lancs. The only time I did any representative stuff was aged 16 in the Festival teams. I’d also had a trial at 11, but it didn’t come to anything.
“When I was 22 or 23 I started playing for Cumberland in the Minor Counties. I played once for Northants seconds in 2013, but it got rained off, and then I didn’t play again until 2015.
“The original link to Northants came through Con de Lange, who was Blackpool’s pro before going to Northants. He recommended me.
“The second time, it was through James Middlebrook, who was playing Minor Counties for Bedfordshire and came to me and said ‘Listen, I think you’ve got something, I’ll put you in touch with the coach’. I went and played a couple of twos games and it went from there.
“But I wasn’t looking to find a career in playing anymore. I’d taken 50 wickets a summer for however many years in the Northern League, so I felt if it was going to happen, it would have done before it did. To get it at 27, it was a surprise.
“I was content in my coaching stuff at the LCB, and that maybe even put me in a better position because I didn’t feel any real pressure when I broke through at Northants as I knew I could go back and do my day job.”
Gleeson’s first-class debut came against the touring Australians in late 2015 at Wantage Road, although he was still a year and a bit away from a full time contract. He dismissed the Marsh brothers, Shaun and Mitch: “It was straight in at the deep end,” he laughed. “But it gave me confidence to know I was good enough to perform at that level.
“I then did a year on a retainer going back and forth when they needed me in 2016 and coached on my off days. About halfway through that season, I started doing well in the white ball stuff and they offered me a contract for 2017.”
He took 40 first-class wickets in 2017 and encouraged with the white ball, earning him an England Lions call-up for their winter tour of the West Indies.
“Whilst I was away with the Lions, I did well and got some good feedback,” he said. “England’s definitely a goal, but it’s not the be all and end all. I’m 30 now, so they’ll be looking for players with longevity. But if you can bowl quick, there’s always an option. All it takes is a couple of injuries. You just have to make sure you’re doing the right things at the right times.”
Gleeson is confident Lancashire have all the tools to immediately bounce back from relegation: “Hopefully it’s just two years and we’re county champions again. That’s the aim,” he said before finishing by answering a question regarding life after cricket and a possible return to coaching.
“It’s been a bit of whirlwind with everything, but I’ve tried to keep a hand in with the coaching. I did a bit of work with the Academy at Northants last winter and have already spoken to Glen Chapple about doing bits and pieces here. I’m also trying to get back in at Blackpool.
“I’m definitely keeping my eye in, but for now I’m trying to take wickets and win games for Lancashire."
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