Marlborough Express - 2021-11-26


Allen ready for


Finn Allen had a whirlwind summer a year ago, taking the Twenty20 Super Smash by storm and blazing his way into the Black Caps. After a winter where he’s rubbed shoulders with a number of short-format greats, he’s back to do it all again with the Wellington Firebirds. His record last season still makes for remarkable reading – 512 runs, including six 50s, at an average of 56.88 and a strike rate of 193.93, as the Firebirds emerged triumphant for the second year in a row. Their quest for a three-peat begins at Hagley Oval tonight, with a rematch of last year’s decider against the Canterbury Kings, which follows a repeat of the women’s final between the defending champion Canterbury Magicians and Wellington Blaze. While Allen started last season as somewhat of an unknown, opposing teams are sure to have detailed plans to try to tie him down this time around. But he’s ready to show what he’s learned from his time with Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, Lancashire in England’s T20 Blast, and Birmingham Phoenix in The Hundred – experiences he wouldn’t have been expecting to have last November. ‘‘I’m looking forward to the challenge,’’ Allen said this week. ‘‘I suppose that’s what I’ve been working on a lot in this last sort of eight-month period, just trying to evolve my game even more and to be harder to bowl at and to be able to hit to different parts of the ground. ‘‘Last year went well, but I felt like I was a bit limited in the areas that I could score, particularly through the off-side, so I’ve put a lot of time into developing that and working towards being a lot harder to bowl at.’’ Former Black Caps coach Mike Hesson picked Allen up as an injury replacement for Bangalore before he’d made his international debut and while he didn’t play during his time with the team in India in April and May, he relished the chance to train with batsmen such as Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, and AB de Villiers. Then came England, where he did play and his teammates included Jos Buttler and Liam Livingstone. ‘‘In India, it was obviously awesome to mix with AB, Maxwell, Virat and all them, especially now that AB’S retired,


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