Sandy Allen appointed Devon's first youth pathway and coaching manager

Sandy Allen celebrates the fall of a wicket playing for Exmouth
Sandy Allen celebrates the fall of a wicket playing for Exmouth

DEVON’S new pathway and coaching manager gets to work on Monday with a brief to get the best out of the county’s young players.

Sandy Allen, the former Devon and Warwickshire 2nd XI cricketer, is the first holder of the new post.

Devon have had part-time appointees in elite player development roles before – and have benefited from years of dedicated coaching from volunteers.

Sand Allen batting for Exmouth in the NatWest Club T20Allen’s appointment puts player development on a new footing and recognises the depth of talent continually unearthed in Devon.

His job starts with District cricket  - the shop window for up-and-coming young players in all four corners of the county – with the pathway through to representative age-group cricket and finally the Emerging Player Programme.

Allen doesn’t have a brief to dismantle the current infrastructure, which has worked pretty well over many years.

What Allen does want to improve what is in place and introduce some new ideas to benefit players and coaches.

And as a level three coach himself, Allen has plenty to offer of a practical nature.

“The ECB want Devon to produce First Class and England players of the future and the pathway starts with District cricket,” said Allen.

“How that works in a Minor County I am not quite sure yet, but our track record over the last 20 years suggests we have a role to play.

“From Chris Read with Notts and England to all the players we have sent to Somerset in recent seasons and the players on contracts with Surrey, Hampshire, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, we have helped many cricketers past and present into the First Class game.

“We want that to continue by making our best players as good as they can be. Not all of them will make it, but those who don’t will be strong players for the Devon League and for the Devon Minor County team.’

Allen sees the age-group sides from under-10 up to under-17 then on to the Devon Lions Development squad as all part of the pathway.

The pathway starts with District cricket and keeping that strong is a top priority.

“My first job is to review what we do and listen to District coaches, managers and players’ parents to hear their views,” said Allen.

“I would like to get the District squads into the Cricket Centre in Exeter to spend some time with them and support the work of the coaches.”

Age-group cricket is in full swing at this time of the year and Allen intends taking advantage by getting round the grounds to watch Devon teams in action.

As Allen coaches the under-16 and under-17 sides he knows plenty about them already.

His learning curve is from under-10 upwards.Sandy Allen in duty behind the stumps for Exmouth

“I envisage a lot of time talking to age-group managers, people such as Jim Parker the youth chairman, and learn more about the players,” said Allen.

“I see my role as supporting the coaches and managers and looking at how we play.

“It is things like selecting key areas that need to be worked on.”

Alexander Philip Wortley Allen was born in Birmingham 32 years ago and was destined to play cricket.

“My grandfather on my mother’s side played for Warwickshire as an amateur when he wasn’t running his bike company – and played for England Amatuers,” said Allen.

“I had an uncle who played club cricket so we were a cricket family.”

Allen fist picked up a bat in the back garden aged three or four and was quickly hooked on the game.

Warwickshire talent-spotted the young Allen early and he progressed through the county age-groups from under-11 to under-19.

Allen was contracted to Warwickshire in 2002, but not retained at he end of the season. He played one First Class game against West Indies A.

That autumn Allen started a three-year degree course at the University of Exeter studying sports science.

He played cricket for the university, league cricket for Budleigh Salterton and was soon keeping for Devon in Minor Counties games.

Allen played more than 70 games for Devon in all formats between 2002-2015.