Allen says it's unrealistic for USACA's administration to preach to the players that they should be maintaining professional standards in training and preparation for tournaments if the players are not going to be provided with access to professional resources and, more importantly, professional compensation.
By Peter Della Penna (on Twitter)
Dynamic allrounder Timroy Allen, one of the most gifted players of the last decade to suit up for USA, has decided to retire from playing international cricket at the age of 26. Allen cited family reasons and a lack of paid professional cricket opportunities as his main reasons for no longer wanting to pursue a career with the US national team.
“I’ve been wanting to finish with it because I’m not really achieving anything from being away from my family, from my job,” Allen said. Allen is self-employed in Orlando, Florida where he runs his own pest control business. Being away for weeks at a time such as during USA’s recent tour to Bermuda severely impacts his ability to provide for his young family and also includes the risk of losing customers who can’t access his service while Allen is away on tour.
Image (right) - Timroy Allen bowling against Uganda at 2013 ICC WCL Division Three in Bermuda. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
“If I don’t work, I don’t get paid," Allen said. "It’s not like most of the other guys that could take a vacation or take sick days and get paid. I can’t do that. I have to work and cricket is not really doing anything for me. I play cricket probably once every two or three months. I’m not really interested in that whole dilemma.”
“Somebody can call for a respray or something and if you say, “The technician is on vacation for the next two weeks and we won’t be able to help you,” those customers will go on to another company. You don’t want to lose a bunch of customers because of cricket that’s doing nothing for you.”
Allen arrived in Florida from Jamaica as a teenager and represented the South East Region in USACA national tournaments before making his debut for USA as a 21-year-old against Barbados at the 2008 WICB Cup 50-over tournament in Guyana, taking 1 for 26 in eight overs. He represented USA in 10 tournaments from 2008 to 2013 and started in a total of 44 official international matches, 30 in the 50-over format along with 14 matches in Twenty20 cricket for USA. He is currently tied for ninth all-time in one-day cricket for USA with 31 wickets at an average of 26.42 bowling a combination of fast medium pace and off-spin while he is currently tied for second in Twenty20 cricket with 17 wickets at an average of 15.59.
His best haul in 50-over cricket was 5 for 7 against Suriname at the 2008 ICC Americas Division One tournament in Florida. In Twenty20 cricket, his best return came against Cayman Islands at the 2011 ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 in Florida when he took 4 for 8.
Even though it may not have been statistically as impressive, one of Allen’s most memorable performances was in 2010 at the final of the inaugural ICC Americas Division One Twenty20 tournament in Bermuda when he finished with 2 for 21 in four overs against Canada. USA’s rivals to the north had handily beaten USA earlier on tour in both 50-over and Twenty20 contests by 9 wickets and 7 wickets respectively. Canada captain Rizwan Cheema had blasted an unbeaten 114 against USA in their first encounter in Bermuda, but Allen gave him a working over in the Twenty20 encounters. In the final, Allen removed Cheema for 2 and fellow opener Hiral Patel for a duck to set the tone in the field for USA as they bowled out Canada for 100 before winning the tournament title by 5 wickets.
In recent times, Allen had a bigger impact with the bat, recording three half-centuries in his last two tournaments including a career best 72 not out off 43 balls against Malaysia in the opening match of 2012 ICC WCL Division Four in Malaysia last September. He collected three Man of the Match awards across Division Four and Division Three in the last year, walking away with the honors after his performances in wins against Malaysia and Singapore at Division Four and against Italy in Division Three in Bermuda.
Image (left) - Allen winds up before striking a delivery down the ground during his 67 not out off 34 balls against Nepal at 2013 ICC WCL Division Three in Bermuda. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
However, Allen said he struggled to find motivation to play for USA, especially during the most recent tour to Bermuda. While being away from family was a major concern, Allen said several other problems had affected him on the tour to Bermuda as well as other tours, including player stipends and the availability of help and support while recovering from injuries sustained while playing for the national team. The mounting frustration finally reached a tipping point in Bermuda and at the conclusion of the tour, Allen arrived at the airport to go back to the USA with only his personal luggage. He left his cricket kit bag back in his Bermuda hotel room on purpose with no intention to play the game again.
An email was sent out by USACA General Manager Manaf Mohamed to members of the national team on May 16 seeking player availability for a tour to Canada in July for The Auty Cup. In a letter as part of the email, the players were informed by Mohamed that no stipend would be provided for the players touring Canada. Allen responded in part to Mohamed by writing that “it's a privilege to represent the greatest country on earth but I play cricket for money not because I love the game” before signing the email “Allen’s family.”
Allen says it’s unrealistic for USACA’s administration to preach to the players that they should be maintaining professional standards in training and preparation for tournaments if the players are not going to be provided with access to professional resources and, more importantly, professional compensation.
“The money is not the main thing. It’s the principle,” Allen said. “I have a daughter and my wife will have another baby in September, a boy. So cricket really don’t offer anything here so I think I’m just gonna focus on my family. It’s not just this last tournament. I got injured in Italy [at ICC WCL Division Four in August 2010]. I injured my shoulder and ever since then I kind of realized they don’t really care about the players because I didn’t hear anything from one person after I injured my shoulder but the next trip was to Hong Kong a couple months later. Then they called me and asked if I’m available. I can’t say what I said to that person, but I just basically told them don’t call my phone. That was one of the main things for me.”
“I was on my own. I had to use my own insurance. I had to do everything on my own. There was nothing provided by USACA or upper management. Nobody really cared about it so I had to take care of it myself. So ever since then I’m kind of skeptical about the whole thing.”
Compared to the preparation and resources that other countries had heading into ICC WCL Division Three in Bermuda, Allen felt that there wasn’t enough support provided to the USA players on or off the field heading into a tournament with such massive implications. At stake was a spot at the 2014 ICC World Cup Qualifier, an increase in ICC funding and potentially ODI status and a chance to play in the ICC Intercontinental Cup depending on where a team finishes in the 2014 ICC World Cup Qualifier. By finishing out of the top two in Bermuda, USA missed out on all of these opportunities.
“We are there to say we are representing the United States of America, one of the greatest nations on earth, and you cannot find two guys on the bus that have on the same outfit,” Allen said. “You can’t tell me you’re gonna pick us up from work to play five or six games of 50-over cricket and think natural ability is just gonna bring us through. The two teams that went through are actually the two poorest [countries] that entered the competition but I think they actually did more than we did. Even though they are short on funds, they were still able to get their guys training and all this other stuff. I just don’t think for us to leave work to go play that much cricket all of a sudden… yes they send us a training program and we’re supposed to follow it but there’s nothing hands on.”
When asked why he felt that the three 50-over practice matches against Bermuda in Florida a month before the start of ICC WCL Division Three was not adequate preparation, Allen stated that USACA should have decided on a squad of 14 to tour Bermuda ahead of the practice matches in Florida. He did not feel it was right for USACA to pick one squad for the practice matches and then make multiple changes ahead of going to Bermuda.
Image (right) - Allen acknowledges his teammates after crossing 50 on his way to a career high 72 not out vs. Malaysia at 2012 ICC WCL Division Four in Malaysia last September. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
“They’re not serious about the whole thing. It doesn’t really make any sense,” Allen said. “If you’re gonna pick a team to go on tour, I think that team is gonna need the practice. You’re not just gonna play a couple of games with a totally different team and then you bring in another team to play two or three matches. That doesn’t make any sense. If you’re gonna have a training camp, you should bring the team in that you know you’re gonna bring [to Bermuda]. Those are the guys that you’re gonna prepare.”
Allen has no qualms about stepping aside from the national team and believes it is the best thing to do in order for another player to get a chance to come in and contribute.
“There will always be guys that come through the channels willing to do the hard work and have the dedication in order to get success so I don’t think it will be a problem,” Allen said. “There’s a lot of youngsters out there that would love to have that opportunity.”