CRICKET throughout Gloucestershire is mourning the loss of David Allen, a true cricketing great.
He burst on the scene immediately after leaving Cotham Grammar School in Bristol. Going straight into the county team he took 6-13 in a rout of Surrey. His fellow sixth-formers carried him shoulder high from the pitch.
At the end of his first full season (1959) he boarded the boat to the West Indies with the rest of the England team.
R W V Robbins (Snobby Robby) was manager. “Are you Allen?” were his first words to David. “You will not be playing much on tour so I will want you to look after my brief case. I shall have plenty of speeches to make.”
Off spinner David proved him wrong, playing in all five Tests. His clever flight and total accuracy stood him in fine stead on the wickets England encountered abroad and he was an automatic choice for the next six years, touring every major Test-playing country.
Someone else spoke to him on that banana boat. It was Fred Trueman.
“You bowl 24 overs an hour at Gloucester,” said Fred. “If you and I are bowling together, slow it down. I need a rest between overs.”
Perhaps David is best remembered for saving the Lord’s Test in 1962. Colin Cowdrey came out to bat with his arm in plaster but did not have to face a ball, David keeping out rapid yorkers from Wes Hall.
There was one failure in David’s Test career. “We tried to put the young Geoffrey Boycott right about the game when he joined us,” said David. “He could bat all right, but was no good at listening.”
Proud to be a professional cricketer, David served country and county well.
In his first class career he took 1,209 wickets and made 9,291 runs. He played in 39 Tests, taking 122 wickets, more than any other Gloucestershire bowler for the national side.
After retiring he was a stalwart in the Old England team and became very involved with his home team club Thornbury where he was an active chairman and later president, always helping in the nets.
Respected for all the right reasons he made a genuine contribution in every area he served.
He was my immediate predecessor as president of the county club, and with his wife Joyce, performed his duties impeccably.
David’s feats in the game, his love for it and his seven decades of service to it make him both hero and example. He never did less than his best in serving the game he both loved and respected.
Privileged to have known him and honoured to be a friend, I shall miss him.