AS GLOUCESTERSHIRE cricket mourns the loss of David Allen, part of his legacy can already be seen in the county squad with the emergence of young off-spinner Tom Shrewsbury.
Former England and Gloucestershire star Allen, who recently passed away at the age of 78, was an active member of Thornbury Cricket Club for over 30 years, where he coached senior and youth players, helping the likes of Chris Dent, Neil Pritchard and Damien Forder reach the professional game.
Shrewsbury can now be added to that list as he is ‘living the dream’ in his first season as a full-time contracted player with Gloucestershire having come under Allen’s wing at Thornbury.
Originally from Cornwall, the 19-year-old was snapped up by the county’s academy four years ago and Allen’s expertise was a major factor in him joining Thornbury in 2012 to play club cricket.
Shrewsbury counts himself fortunate to have learned under three former international off-spinners since making the move north, having also spent a lot of time working with former Gloucestershire coach Richard Dawson, who has since left to join Yorkshire, and director of cricket John Bracewell, who played 41 Test matches for New Zealand.
“David was a great help at Thornbury,” said Shrewsbury, speaking to the Gazette before the Thornbury president died.
“He gave me tips that he’s learnt over the years and it’s been brilliant.
“All of them have got great experience and knowledge so I couldn’t have asked to be in a better place with all that support.
“Richard has been a great help to me over the last few years – he worked hard to get me into the squad.”
Former England under-19 international Shrewsbury finished his studies at Wycliffe College last year before making his Gloucestershire debut in a T20 game against Glamorgan at Cardiff and then playing in a County Championship match away to Northamptonshire.
The more experienced Tom Smith has started this season as the club’s first choice spinner in the County Championship and NatWest T20 Blast, but Shrewsbury is hoping to push him hard for a place in the side as he adjusts to life as a professional cricketer.
He said: “I didn’t see myself this time last year being here now. It’s all come quite quickly.
“I still probably haven’t hit the ground, I’ve just been living the dream really.
“My main aim is to take wickets and see if I can break into the first team this year.
“I think there are a lot of opportunities, especially if we’re playing two spinners. I think I can vary my bowling to play all three formats."
Shrewsbury said breaking into the team last year was the highlight of his life.
“It was brilliant to be given that opportunity and see how proud my parents were in the crowd because they’ve put a lot of time and effort into me, and a lot of money into my funding and school.
“I was very proud to make my debut and I played in that four-day game, which was brilliant because it was in Northampton where my dad grew up so that meant something to him.”