Now, you can get all the USA Cricket updates via Facebook. Also follow us on Twitter via @dreamcricket
By Peter Della Penna
Having a quality all-rounder in a cricket team can be like playing on the field with 12 men because of that one player’s dual capabilities. Some all-rounders like Shaun Pollock bowl fast and bat well. Others divide their time between batting and bowling spin like Daniel Vettori.
Pic (Right): Allen bowling off-spin versus Afghanistan at the Dubai WCQ [All Pictures - Courtesy: Daniela Zaharia/USACA]
Then there is that rare blend of both. Andrew Symonds has forged a successful career by being able to bowl pace and spin in addition to walloping the ball around the park. To be spoiled for choice by having a triple threat all rolled into one player is a captain’s dream and USA is fortunate enough to have that in Timroy Allen.
“To be quite honest, I’d like to say that Timroy has probably been the most talented player that we’ve seen in the last decade,” said USA captain Steve Massiah. “He’s very versatile. He brings a lot to the team and with his age, definitely I think he’s a player for the future who a lot is expected of. He’s extremely talented as a batsman and a bowler, whether it be off-spin or whether it be bowling fast.”
The 23-year-old has toyed with his mixture of pace and spin since he was a kid growing up in Jamaica. Like a high school ironman football player who starts at running back on offense and linebacker on defense, Allen’s athleticism allowed him to develop several styles of cricket skills.
“I’ve kinda been growing up always being an all-rounder,” said Allen. “From primary school I’ve been doing the same thing. I would open the bowling, bowling fast, and come back later and bowl spin so it’s kinda something I’ve been developing over the years.”
Allen first came to the U.S. in 2005. He arrived in Florida and settled in the Orlando area with his mother, who was already a U.S. citizen, as well as his younger sister Kahlia. Allen had just finished high school and began going to technical school in order to get certifications. He wasn’t eligible to go with USA’s U-19 squad to play in the World Cup in Sri Lanka the following year, but as a teenager he caught Massiah’s eye in a national tournament played in New York.
“I was very much impressed with him from the very first time I saw him,” said Massiah. “His pace and his control, I thought he was extremely pacy. For a 17-year-old, he looked like a natural fast bowler to be quite honest.”
Allen finally got his first crack with the USA senior team in 2008 at the West Indies Cricket Board Cup in Guyana and once again made a solid impression with his teammates and the opposition.
Pic (Right): Allen uses every inch of his towering frame to bowl express pace
On debut against a Barbados team that featured seven players who have played for the West Indies, Allen took 1 for 23 in eight overs claiming Ryan Hinds as his first scalp for USA.
“I’d seen him play before, but to get a really close look at him was when we toured Guyana. That’s the first time I really get a up close and personal,” said Orlando Baker, who captained USA in Massiah’s absence during that tournament. “I was really impressed on those flat tracks in Guyana the way he bowled, his length, and it was just amazing to see a young guy, bowling so fast on them kind of decks against quality first-class players, people who have played Test cricket. A lot of them give me feedback that they was impressed with him.”
Eleven days later in the 2008 ICC Americas Division One Tournament in Florida, Allen turned in his best statistical performance for USA, taking 5 for 7 in a blowout victory over Suriname. He finished with seven wickets in three games as USA won the tournament. Despite the fact that USA did not play another match for the next 14 months, Allen didn’t skip a beat and shined once again during this past February’s tour of the UAE and Nepal.
“I suppose the one that stands out the most from a youngsters’ point of view is Timroy,” said Dipak Patel, the former New Zealand international who acted as a consultant coach for USA during their February tour. When asked at the conclusion of the tour which players made an impression on him, he was reluctant to name names but couldn’t shy away from Allen. “He’s an athlete. He bowls quick. He bowls spin. He’s dynamic with the bat.” Patel, like many others, believes that Allen has really only shown glimpses of the full range of talent that he is capable of achieving.
“He’s an outstanding athlete,” said Patel. “If you put all those ingredients together, who knows… with the right type of guidance, he could go a long long way.”
Within the USA squad, that guidance has come from Baker, who has been Allen’s roommate on each tour since Allen joined the national team. Baker is not a bad person to model an all-round game after. Another player originally from Jamaica, Baker’s versatility is something Allen and others should draw on as he bats up and down the order in addition to bowling medium pace and filling in as a wicketkeeper when needed. Baker has enjoyed witnessing Allen’s batting progress over the last year.
“I watched him in Abu Dhabi at the Abu Dhabi Stadium in a game against UAE where U.S. was completely out of the game in a Twenty20,” said Baker in reference to the last warm-up game USA played before the start of the World Twenty20 Qualifiers in February. “He come in and score about 60 something in no time. He was hitting some balls I’m telling you, just cricketing shots and it just goes to show you the kind of talent the player have.”
Allen finished 57 not out in 24 balls on that occasion with three boundaries and four sixes to rescue USA, taking them to a one-wicket win. Massiah also believes that Allen has taken some good strides to improve his batting and give it greater focus without letting it affect his bowling.
“I think Tim has really developed as a batsman,” said Massiah. “He’s a natural cricketer but I think now he has matured as a batsman. He understands his role, how important it is for him to keep the lower order together. I thought in Bermuda and in UAE, he batted sensibly toward the end, especially in a game against Canada, himself and [Rashard] Marshall played brilliant. They put together a very good partnership and whenever he’s gotten the opportunity to bat, you can see that now he’s making a conscious effort to bat sensibly.
Pic (Left): A big hitter, Allen has learnt to stay longer at the crease instead of going for the fences from ball one
“The key to him, my advice to him is to give himself a chance and try to bat as many overs as possible because he has the ability to hit the ball whenever he chooses to because he’s a natural striker of the ball, but now I thought that he’s matured and batting sensibly and building an innings which is most important, working the ball and putting together innings instead of going out and trying to hit the ball out of the park from the word go. I thought he matured nicely and that’s a great sign for us.”
Massiah thinks that if Allen is able to keep improving, he has the potential to notch a century for USA down the road.
“I don’t think we’ve really seen the true class of Tim as yet,” said Massiah. “I’ve spoken to him in terms of his role and how important is it for him to try to occupy the crease and for him to bat as long as possible. I think once he’s able to do that, we could see probably Tim scoring a hundred at six or seven for the U.S. in the very near future because he’s very competent and very capable of doing that. Tim has the makings to be an exceptional all-round cricketer.”
The one consistent theme among all the praise is the talk of the potential that Allen holds to be a great player. In other words, there are still things he has to work on before he actually is great. Baker believes one of the easiest areas for Allen to improve is his work ethic off the field.
“I think one of the main areas I always encourage him to do is to practice even in the offseason,” said Baker. “He’s a fast bowler. You gotta be strong and I always encourage him that you need to go to the gym because this is a man that doesn’t go to the gym. If you look at the guy, the guy is okay. He’s tall, strong, but he doesn’t work out in the gym. You could just imagine if Tim goes to the gym say four times a week, he could be a killer. I just always encourage him to do the right thing.”
For the last four years, Allen has been working as an alarm technician, fitting in his club cricket games for Lucas CC in the Central Florida Cricket League when time permits. He admits that he doesn’t invest as much time into training as he should and blames it on the time consumed each day going to his day job. It’s one reason why he feels he hasn’t been able to reach his full potential despite all the plaudits from his teammates and coaches.
“A lot of people say I’m one of the most talented player on the team,” said Allen. “Yes, I think I’m one of the most talented player on the team, but until I really get the opportunity to practice and play on a day-to-day basis, well I don’t limit my potential before then because that’s really the only thing that I think that’s holding me back. From going to work, I don’t have an opportunity to practice and only going to play on the weekends sometimes, maybe twice or once a month.”
Baker, who lives in Dallas, has been in regular contact with Allen in the buildup to the team’s departure on Monday for the ICC WCL Division Four Tournament in Italy. The veteran has been doing his best to encourage Allen to train hard heading into this tournament.
“Tim is the kind of guy who likes a push,” said Baker. “He’s not the kind of guy who backs down. He likes challenges.” If Allen can combine his natural talents with more dedication to practice, there’s no limit to what he might produce for the national team.
“He’s a wonderful spinner. He turns the ball as an off-spinner I think the biggest in America that I’ve seen, that I’ve played against. He has a faster ball that a lot of people doesn’t have and I think that faster ball comes because he’s a natural fast bowler,” said Baker. While USA has a nice stockpile of spinners to choose from, it’s hard to find someone who can bowl as fast as Allen.
“I think if on a day-to-day basis, he could be one of the fastest bowler in the USA if he really comes out and decided to bowl fast,” said Baker. “I’ve seen it recently in Bermuda on a flat pitch in the stadium which he really had Canadian guys jumping around in the Twenty20. It was surprising to not only us but to the Canadians the way he bowled on that real flat pitch. He’s a talented player. I just always encourage him to work hard because it doesn’t matter how talented you are, whether as a batsman or bowler, you have to work on your game. I always encourage him in whatever way I can.”
Baker is confident that Allen will turn up the heat on opposing batsman on the artificial wickets in Bologna. “I’m looking forward to seeing him in Italy on these kind of pitches. I know a lot of people is going to be in trouble.”
“On this tour coming up, first and foremost, hopefully we’ll get back here victorious winning that competition,” said Allen. “If I’m bowling or batting, I’ve just gotta stay focused and make sure that whatever situation we’re in, if we’re ever in a bad situation, that we get out of it and put the win in the bag for us.”
Whether it’s with the ball or the bat in his hand, few players can match the talent that Allen possesses. It’s up to him to make the most of it and his captain hopes he does.
“Tim is a natural cricketer,” said Massiah. “He’s one of the few natural cricketers in the squad. Some people are naturals, some people are hard workers. I would like to say he’s a natural talent. When he bowls off-spin, his action and his control, everything is so perfect. He delivers from high. He has the makings of being one of the most successful players that’s gonna represent America.”