Accrington Observer

Lancs late bloomer set for debut on home soil




IF Lancashire fast bowler Richard Gleeson is to make his full England debut this summer, there has to be an excellent chance it will come at Emirates Old Trafford.

Even without fans present, that would make it extra special for a 32-yearold whose journey towards the pinnacle of the game has been different to say the least.

Gleeson has been named as one of seven Red Rose players in England’s 55-man ‘ back to training’ squad as they prepare for next month’s Test series against the West Indies and further potential red and white ball series against Pakistan, Ireland and Australia.

Old Trafford and Hampshire’s Ageas Bowl are set to share the three Tests against the West Indies, with the final two Tests played in Manchester from July 16 and 24.

“It would be nice to walk out there even if there isn’t the packed crowd you would normally see,” said Gleeson, who represente­d the England Lions in Australia at the start of the year. “I know the conditions and the ground dimensions, so it’s always handy.”

A late bloomer, Gleeson only made his first-class debut in August 2015, for Northampto­nshire. He had been playing club cricket beforehand for Blackpool and for Cumberland in the Minor Counties competitio­ns.

He impressed for Northants and signed for Lancashire at the back end of the 2018 summer.

Whilst trying to make it into profession­al cricket, he was working as a community coach for the Lancashire Cricket Board. Earlier in his working life, he also spent time as a landscape gardener, manual labouring in a Baxi Boilers warehouse and “cleaning maggots” in a fishing tackle shop.

Whilst working as a developmen­t coach for the Lancashire Cricket Board, Gleeson would be at Emirates Old Trafford as the ground was undergoing the redevelopm­ent he believes has made it into one of the very best venues in world cricket.

The addition of the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel has proved central to the England and Wales Cricket Board’s decision to use it as one of the two biosecure venues for the West Indies series.

“The club is reaping the rewards,” said the man who played in iconic venues in Australia over the winter whilst representi­ng Big Bash side Melbourne Renegades.

“When the big games happen, Old Trafford has got everything you’d want.

“It’s obviously got the conference and events and business side of things that’s massive, and it’s very futuristic compared to a lot of grounds. It’s a brilliant set-up, and they’re working all the time to improve it. It will be interestin­g to see how far they can take it.

“Somewhere like the MCG is massive just in sheer size and structure, but Old Trafford has got everything you’d want. It’s got all the LED screens, all the fan zones.

“The Roses clash (Vitality Blast) last year got washed out, but walking around the ground and seeing all the things they had set up for the fans, I think they’re doing every

Lancashire’s Richard Gleeson thing right in terms of the fan experience and getting people in.

“Hopefully we can get back to that some time soon.”

Gleeson, who nine weeks ago became a father for the second time to a little boy called Rory, is loving being back in training at Old Trafford, although he politely declined to reveal whether the England selectors have told him to concentrat­e his preparatio­ns on red or white ball skills.

“It’s just nice to be up and active and be able to bowl again,” he said, before laughing: “It’s also nice to be out of the house, socialise with other people again and be away from the children for 10 minutes!”

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