Bears have added further firepower to their Vitality Blast bowling line-up after agreeing a contract with England pacer Richard Gleeson.

Gleeson has signed a deal that covers the Bears’ group games – from 31 May to 19 July – and a return in September should they reach the knockout stages.

The 36-year-old has played six IT20s for England, including his remarkable debut at Edgbaston in 2022 that saw him skittle India’s Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant in the space of four balls.

He joins fellow England international George Garton who signed for Mark Robinson’s side last November, and Pakistan star Hassan Ali who’s committed to a Warwickshire return in 2024.

Performance Director Gavin Larsen, said: “Richard is an exciting appointment that adds another quality and proven bowler to our T20 Blast squad.

“His pace bowling offers us a skill-set that will be vital and, alongside Hassan Ali, will give us great coverage at both ends of the bowling innings.

“Richard has been bowling well for his respective teams in this year’s SA20 and ILT20 and we look forward to him arriving here at Edgbaston and becoming a key member of the Bears squad.”

Gleeson played for Manchester Originals in last summer’s The Hundred – taking eight wickets – and this year has appeared for Durban Super Giants in the SA20 and Gulf Giants in the ILT20, Abu Dhabi, alongside ex-Bear Dominic Drakes and England’s Chris Jordan.

The former Northamptonshire and Lancashire player – who’s set to make his Edgbaston debut for the Bears on 1 June at Blast Off against Notts Outlaws – said he’s looking forward to again playing in front of a passionate Edgbaston crowd.

“It’s amazing to sign for such a big Club and I can’t wait to be a Bear,” he added. “I can see we’ve got a really strong squad so hopefully we can bring home the trophy in front of our own fans at Edgbaston.

“It’s an amazing stadium, somewhere that’s close to my heart after making my England debut there. I can’t wait to get out in front of that home crowd again, take a few poles and win some games.”

Gleeson, from Blackpool, was an integral part of Northamptonshire’s T20 Blast winning side of 2016. He missed Finals Day but did much to get them there with miserly economy rates (under six an over) and aggressive, full-length bowling.

He’s taken a total of 99 T20 wickets, with a career best of 5-33 – for Lancashire Lightning against Worcestershire in May 2022 – and a T20 economy rate of 8.25.

Four Teams. Two Matches. Blast Off is back!

Vitality Blast Off is back and the Bears will launch their home T20 campaign with a huge men’s double-header featuring two big Midlands rivalry games.

Taking place on Saturday 1 June, Derbyshire Falcons host Leicestershire Foxes (2.30pm) before the Bears take on Notts Outlaws (6.30pm). Buy tickets in advance and save.

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