Nobody would wish upon any county the hard financial times that Northamptonshire have been through in the last few years but their plight has not been without consolations. Had the purse strings at Wantage Road not needed to be drawn so tight, for example, the careers of several players who have worn the Tudor Rose badge with distinction might never have happened.

Working with a perennially small squad of senior players, the county are never more than two or three injuries away from a selection crisis and have had to be more resourceful than most in finding candidates to fill the breach. Plucking names from obscurity has become something of a speciality.

So much so that Northants coach David Ripley is advocating that England consider their latest find - a player still largely unknown - for a T20 debut against the West Indies next month.

Jack Brooks is the most high-profile example of a fast bowler who blossomed late, a revelation for Northants and subsequently Yorkshire but already 25 when he made his first-class debut after stepping up from minor counties cricket with Oxfordshire.

Ben Sanderson, 28, the wicket-taking hero last summer of the county's second odds-defying T20 finals day triumph in four years, arrived at Wantage Road by a similar route, having played in minor counties for Shropshire, although he had sampled the beginnings of a professional career with Yorkshire before being released in 2011.

Now Ripley thinks he has struck gold again with a third fast bowler. Richard Gleeson, the 29-year-old former Cumberland player took 14 debut-season wickets in last summer's NatWest Blast and has another 10 this time in what is shaping up as another successful Northants T20 campaign, which sees the county second in the North Group ahead of Friday night's home match against Leicestershire.

Gleeson was still being paid on a match-by-match arrangement last year, having never played in a professional game before the 2015 season, but he was given his first contract this year and is making an impact, too, in red-ball cricket, in which he took his first five-wicket haul in Northants' rain-ruined Championship match against Gloucestershire this week.

He was selected for the North v South matches in Dubai and Abu Dhabi before the current season only to be ruled out by injury and Ripley rates him so highly he thinks England should be considering him for the T20 fixture against West Indies at Chester-le-Street next month.

"From what I've seen in T20 cricket, I really hope he can be involved in that England-West Indies T20 game"

"He's got pace, he does things with the ball and he gets good players out," Ripley said. "From what I've seen in T20 cricket, I really hope he can be involved in that England-West Indies T20 game. He holds his nerve in the Powerplays with good players coming hard at him, is hard to hit off a good length, has a yorker he seems to be able to deliver at will, and some improving slower balls."

Blackpool-born Gleeson's professional contract at Wantage Road fulfils a dream he thought would never be realised, having been overlooked by his native Lancashire, for whose cricket board he worked as a community coach until last year.

"I played in under-16s festivals for one of the area teams but that was as close as it got to playing for Lancashire," Gleeson said. "I didn't play any Second XI games or even in age-group teams."

He played club cricket for Blackpool and a sports coaching degree helped him find work with the Lancashire board. It was only after he had been invited to play for Cumberland in minor counties that a professional career finally became a possibility.

"What had started out as a six-month position with Lancashire Cricket Board had turned into a full-time job, doing a lot of Chance to Shine work with schools," he said.

"I worked in a factory for a few months after university, so it was great to be working in coaching, which is what I'd set out to do with the course I chose at university.

"But when I was playing in a match for Cumberland against Bedfordshire, their captain, James Middlebrook, told me he thought I had something and said he could put me in touch with Northants. They played me in a Second XI game and then threw me in against the Australians in a tour game. I got a couple of wickets and it went on from there."

Ripley admits Gleeson's prowess as a T20 bowler was an unexpected bonus. "The white ball stuff was actually a surprise because he had caught the eye in red ball cricket," Ripley said. "He had a little bit of pace and could hold the ball up a little bit from a slightly angular action and we liked the look of him.

"But then he got into the white ball team and the speed he bowled with the white ball in short spells, to which he has added a yorker which he has improved this year, means he now looks like a banker in all formats.

"We have had some ill luck with injuries in T20 this year and Richard has been a key to us keeping our roll going."

Gleeson himself missed T20 finals day in 2016 through injury - the consequence perhaps of his over anxiety to make the most of his opportunity in the professional game, something that has cost him two long lay-offs, on the second occasion after taking a chance to play in the Bangladesh Premier League.

"I played in the 50-over Blast quarter-final against Surrey and bowled probably faster than I had ever bowled but I ended up with a side strain," he said. "So I missed T20 finals day, which was really gutting, although I was pleased that Ben Sanderson stepped up and delivered because we came through at about the same time and we get on really well.

"I didn't bowl again all season and when I went to Bangladesh I was probably a bit undercooked. I ended up getting tendinopathy in both knees and it was a long, slow process to get that sorted out and get back."

The knee problems meant he was forced by circumstance to concentrate on bowling in short bursts in white-ball matches, although his success in his Championship comeback in the pink-ball match against Leicestershire, backed up by this week's 5 for 46 against Gloucestershire, confirmed the potential Ripley originally saw as a red-ball bowler - and confirmed that Northants' need to look for players that others might ignore had thrown up another gem.

"If our budget grew and we were able to have more players I don't know whether we would find players like Gleesonbecause when an opportunity arose it would probably be a young 20-year-old on the staff that got it," Ripley said.

"But we have a small staff and that's one of the reasons we are able to offer opportunities to players like him because it only takes a couple of injuries for us to need players who can go straight into our first team.

"So we've had the opportunity to take one or two out of left field and maybe they have that little bit of extra hunger, because they realise they have to make the most of this opportunity, and that maybe gives them a bit more steel in addition to the skills.

"Ben Sanderson was slightly different in that he was well regarded at Yorkshire but just couldn't break through. But once he got the chance to play some cricket here he grabbed his opportunity.

"There is a parallel with Jack Brooks, too. He was a slightly different age but again a late developer, and we put him straight into second team cricket on a recommendation. He loved it, couldn't believe his luck and really threw himself into it.

"With any career it is about being in the right place at the right time. You get some good young players who don't quite get in at the time and then someone younger comes along and the opportunity is gone.

"That happens a lot, and obviously happened with Richard. He was doing a bit of coaching, a bit of club cricket and I'm sure he was enjoying being in the game. But this is a bit different from what he has experienced. He is a professional cricketer and he has that bit of hunger to succeed."