Renegades sign Gleeson after late signings drama
Pakistan pair replaced by English duo as defending champs scramble to fill international slots
12 December 2019, 03:17 PM AEST
Melbourne Renegades have been forced into a major reshuffle of their overseas players after their two Pakistan recruits, Usman Shinwari and Faheem Ashraf, became unavailable on the eve of the KFC Big Bash season.
It's understood uncapped English quick Richard Gleeson has been secured as a last-minute replacement and is expected to be available for the reigning BBL champions' season opener next week against Sydney Thunder on December 19 in Geelong.
His countryman Harry Gurney, a death-overs specialist who played an integral role in the Gades' maiden title last summer, will now be available for the whole tournament.
The reshuffle comes after Shinwari was selected to make his Test debut for Pakistan against Sri Lanka this week in their long-awaited return to playing at home.
Having only been announced as one of the Renegades' signings last week, Shinwari's call-up over the weekend took the club by surprise and forced them into an eleventh-hour scramble to find a replacement.
The loss of the Pakistani quick was then compounded earlier this week when they discovered Ashraf, the other overseas player they planned on having for the beginning of the season, had been held back to play domestic cricket in Pakistan.
Neither Shinwari nor Ashraf is expected to play in the BBL this season.
Instead, Gleeson has signed for the first eight games of the season before he is replaced by Afghanistan veteran Mohammad Nabi.
Gurney had only originally been signed for the back-end of the tournament but is now expected to be available for their entire campaign.
BBL clubs are only allowed to field two international players in any one game, but new rules permit teams to have up to six overseas players on their books for the season.
"It's obviously unfortunate to lose Shinwari and Ashraf on the eve of the season but sometimes that's the nature of T20 cricket in a busy international schedule," new Renegades coach Michael Klinger said in a statement.
"We know things can change quickly with international players and we need to be ready to respond."
Gleeson has a strong record in England's domestic T20 competition with a career economy rate of 7.47 with Northamptonshire and Lancashire, and last month featured in the T10 league in the UAE.
The 32-year-old is a late bloomer having only made his first-class debut in a tour match against Australia during the 2015 Ashes tour, but quickly made his mark with Northamptonshire and last year played for the England Lions on a tour of the Caribbean.
"Richard bowls with genuine pace and is capable of hitting the areas that make it difficult for batsmen to score on a regular basis," said Klinger.
"His skills in the power play and at the death have resulted in him being one of the best T20 bowlers in the UK T20 Blast in recent years."
The absence of Shinwari, for the early part of the season at least, will be a blow for the Renegades after he made a considerable impact in his seven-game BBL stint last summer.
The left-armer topped the 150kph mark and took eight wickets at 21.50, while his economy rate of 6.14 was superb considering he bowled in the Power Play and the latter overs.
The Renegades' maiden title last summer was built largely on the back of frugal bowling, while their batting stocks have been boosted with the recruitment of prolific BBL star Shaun Marsh from the Perth Scorchers.
Of the XI that defeated crosstown rivals Melbourne Stars in last season's final, only Cameron White (Adelaide Strikers) and Chris Tremain (Sydney Thunder) have departed.
Melbourne Renegades squad: Aaron Finch (c), Cameron Boyce, Dan Christian, Tom Cooper, Zak Evans, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Richard Gleeson (England), Harry Gurney (England), Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Mackenzie Harvey, Jon Holland, Shaun Marsh, Joe Mennie, Mohammad Nabi (Afghanistan), Kane Richardson, Will Sutherland, Beau Webster, Jack Wildermuth.