New Bears Vitality Blast signing Richard Gleeson has spoken of his excitement at being part of what he believes is one of the strongest T20 attacks he’s ever played in.

In his first interview as a Bear, Gleeson said he’s bowling better than ever and spoke of how he’s relishing playing alongside Hassan Ali, Chris Woakes and George Garton. 

And he revealed how his Edgbaston move means his career has come “full circle” after he first tried out at Warwickshire 10 years ago before turning professional.

“Warwickshire was the first county I represented,” recalled the England T20 international. “I think it was 2012, I was recommended to Dougie Brown and came along as a net bowler. I nicked Woakesy off which was a nice start!

“I played a couple of twos games and was invited to train over the winter. But then I picked up an injury and, you know how it is, life and work got in the way. It feels right to go back to complete the circle.

“Fitness wise I feel as good as ever. I’m bowling well, quick, and getting through plenty of overs. I’ve found a bit of something extra in last few months so I’m ready and raring to go.

“The bowling attack here is formidable, and varied. Garts gives us a left-arm option, Hassan with his skiddy pace, Woakes with all his experience, and me with a bit of extra bounce. It feels like we’ve got all bases and conditions covered. 

“And our batting line-up is strong: there’s power and aggression, put also players who hit the gaps and run the wicket, we can hit different areas, guys who will clear the ropes. It’s a great blend and I’m sure we’ll click as a team.” 

Gleeson has signed a deal that covers the Bears’ North 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 holy trinity of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Rishabh Pant in the space of four balls.

During the winter he’s appeared for Durban Super Giants in the SA20 and Gulf Giants in the ILT20 where he took five wickets in five appearances and recorded a 49 per cent dot ball ratio.

He added: “I didn’t turn pro until I was 27 so playing in franchise cricket around the world has been great for my game. Playing T10 has been a good learner: batters go at you hard from ball one. I look at it as though I have 12 events in a game, or 24 in T20, to make something happen. Make each one count; they’re all individual moments. 

“We’ve got a young squad but a talented squad. I’ve played with England and been part of the World Cup winning camp so any experience I’d be delighted to pass on anything that will benefit the younger guys. 

“There will be high pressure moments. It’s how we deal with them together – and bouncing back when things don’t go our way – that will be crucial. 

“I’ve spoken to Al Davies a few times already – we go back a long way and have played in the same league up north – about how I can best fit into the side. I’ve played up front, in the middle, at the death, all the roles so I’ll slot in where Davo and Robbo think I can have most impact. It’ll be great to join the guys on pre-season and start planning.” 

“Blast Finals Day is the aim. It’s the biggest day in the domestic calendar. To have that in front of own fans would be special; I can only imagine what it would be like. It’s 10 years since the Bears last won the Blast, maybe it’s an omen. Good things come to those who wait!”

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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