Richard Gleeson turned in another match-winning performance as the Northants Steelbacks went clear at the top of the NatWest T20 Blast North section with an eight-wicket thrashing of fellow high-flyers Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston on Friday night.
Gleeson was the bowling star in Sunday’s dismantling of Leicestershire Foxes, and he was at it again against the Bears, his early burst of three for six helping reduce the home side to 19 for four, a position from which they never recovered as they limped to 86 for eight in their 16 overs, the match being reduced due to rain.
Gleeson ended up with impressive figures of three for 12 from his four overs, while left-arm spinner Graeme White took two for 15.
Josh Cobb and Ben Duckett then steered the County to an easy win which sees them go two points clear at the top of the table.
Gleeson started it all off with the ball for the Steelbacks, dismissing openers Sam Hain and Ian Bell with only eight on the board.
The Bears were rocking, and when Moin Ashraf bowled Laurie Evans the home side were 10 for three and in all sorts of trouble.
The last time these two sides met in the NatWest T20 Blast was on finals day at the same venue in August, and on that occasion David Willey reduced the Bears to 15 for four.
Their start proved to be better this time around, but only marginally, as when Gleeson picked up his third wicket, having Luke Ronchi caught by Richard Levi, the Bears were 19 for four.
Mohammad Azharullah then got in on the act, dismissing Will Portfield for five, and the Bears were 25 for five and already looking at a damage limitation exercise.
Rikki Clarke and Ateeq Javid took the score to 43, but then the former was bowled by White and any sort of momentum was halted.
Javid did his bit as he battled his way to an unbeaten 34, but he received scant support and the Bears limped to 84 for eight at the end of their 16 overs, with Cobb chipping in with a wicket.
It didn’t look anywhere near enough, and it wasn’t.
The Steelbacks did lose an early wicket When Adam Rossington was dismissed for nine to leave the score 15 for one, but it was a false dawn for the Bears.
Levi was the only other man out for 14, with Cobb making an unbeaten 39 from 35 balls and Ben Duckett 24 not out from 17 as the Steelbacks finished on 89 for two, winning with 3.3 overs to spare.