Richard Gleeson, the former Cumberland fast bowler who has been allocated to the Northern Superchargers alongside Cumbrian Ben Stokes for next year’s “The Hundred” competition, has been reflecting on his time representing Cumbria’s cricket side.

“They completely changed the way I bowled, to be honest,” admits the 31-year-old who was playing minor counties cricket as recently as 2015, before his rapid rise into the professional ranks.

"I went from using a Readers’ ball in league cricket, trying to nip it about a bit, to having a Duke in my hand that swung all over the place.

"It was a real challenge to control that ball and it changed my action completely.

"It probably took me two or three seasons to get to where I wanted to be with it [his bowling action], so I would say they [Cumberland] played a big part in getting me to where I am now."

Gleeson was talent-spotted playing for the Cumbrians by former Northamptonshire off-spinner James Middlebrook who put him in touch with his former club, as Gleeson was handed his big break.

Having initially arrived on trial, the Blackpool-born man, who took 89 wickets for Cumberland from 2010 until 2015, signed a three-year deal with Northamptonshire in 2016.

A productive couple of years, which also saw Gleeson make his debut for England Lions, then followed before the paceman last year penned a three-year contract with Lancashire.

He says: “After getting picked up in ‘The Hundred’ draft, I had a little moment of realisation of where I have actually gone in the last few years.

"From playing minor counties to going to Northants, to doing well in the T20s there, to then going over to Bangladesh to then being with England Lions and playing in the [The Abu Dhabi] T10 [League]. It has been a bit of a whirlwind.

“To get picked up reasonably early on in ‘The Hundred’ draft, it’s shown me really how far I have come since 2015 when I was last playing for Cumberland.”

“It was James Middlebrook who spotted me while I was playing for Cumberland and put me in contact with Northants,” Gleeson adds.

"That’s 100 per cent the reason I am where I am today."

This year, Cumberland reached the Unicorns Trophy final for the first time in seven years, before they lost to Berkshire by just one run at Wormsley.

From the Cumberland side which last featured in a Unicorns Trophy final in 2012, beating Wiltshire by seven wickets, Gleeson and Barrow-born Liam Livingstone now play together for Lancashire, while Carlisle’s new addition Paul Hindmarch featured, too.

On the county team’s exploits this season, former University of Cumbria student Gleeson says: “I have been keeping up-to-date and seeing who has been doing what.

"They have done well. They have a good mix of Blackpool lads in there, as well, which is nice to see with those players following in my footsteps.

"There are other lads who are doing well [in the professional game] like [Kendal-born] Jack White, who played for Cumberland, and has just signed a new deal with Northants.

"Ben Sanderson also came through the minor counties route.

"It just proves there is a pathway so, if the lads really want it and they have got something, then they are in the shop window."

Livingstone, actually, had not even celebrated his 17th birthday when he first played for Cumberland in 2009.

“I think he was about 16 and he still has the same swagger now as he did, then,” jokes Gleeson who has been in the thick of things alongside Luke Wright and England all-rounder Moeen Ali this week for Team Abu Dhabi in the T10 League competition.

"To go on and do the thing he has gone on to do is great for Cumbrian cricket.

"I think he can go even further, as well, having gone for so much in ‘The Hundred’ draft [joining Birmingham Phoenix].

"Obviously, he has played in the IPL [Indian Premier League] and goes around the world playing in all these competitions.

"But he definitely has [an] England call-up on his mind and, overall, that’s what I think he desperately wants.

"If he keeps doing what he’s doing, I’m sure he will get there."

Gleeson will get a great chance to showcase his talent on home soil at the Hundred tournament.

He will play with Australian Aaron Finch and David Willey for the Northern Superchargers as well as Stokes, and will be coached by Darren Lehmann.

Time, however, is not necessarily on the side of Gleeson, who will turn 32 next month.

But he insists: “If you start think ‘I need to make sure I’m ready for this’, it can probably shoot you in the foot a bit.

"So, you do have to enjoy them while you can because your career could be over tomorrow. Any injury could end your career.

"But, hopefully, I have a few years left in me yet.”