By CONRAD SUTCLIFFE
THE chance to work with a group of talented young cricketers during a two-week training camp in India proved irresistible for Sandy Allen.
Allen, who is player-pathway manager for the Devon Cricket Board’s emerging players, was shocked to be asked to be part of Somerset CCC's annual camp in Mumbai for academy and potential Somerset players.
The invitation came during a routine meeting between Allen and Somerset officials as part of the partnership deal signed by the two counties last year.
Alex Barrow, the former Somerset batsman who is the current Devon captain and a part-time coach in the academy at Taunton, is also going on the trip. The pair were due to fly out from Heathrow Airport on Tuesday night.
The former Warwickshire and Devon keeper-batsman, did not hesitate to say yes.
“I was in a meeting with Somerset’s Andy Hurry (director of cricket) and Steve Snell (academy director) when out of the blue they invited me to go out to India with the group,” said Allen.
“It is such a great opportunity to work with talented young cricketers that I could hardly refuse.
“Myself and Alex Barrow are going out as assistant coaches and will work across the board with all the players on all aspects of their game.
“We will be training for eight days and finish the trip with two matches against local opposition.”
Allen has accompanied two Devon Development squad tours to South Africa, but this is the first time he has visited India.
“For Alex and myself it is a brilliant opportunity to work with different players in conditions that are totally different to anything we or they have encountered before,” said Allen.
“As a coach you cannot help but learn in an environment like that.”
Snell said Allen had been invited along as assistant coach as part of the development vision shared with Devon.
“This is a great opportunity for Sandy to develop and add his coaching expertise to our group,” said Snell.
“Alex Barrow has made an excellent impression during his time working with the Academy in connection with his work at King’s Hall School.
“This is a huge opportunity for both of these coaches to experience a cricket-mad culture and to expand their experience and knowledge base of playing in differing conditions.”
Matt Theedom, the cricket development manager for the Devon Cricket Board, said: “This is an amazing opportunity for Sandy to further his coaching knowledge and experience.
“It will be massively beneficial for him and Devon, so we thank Steve for extending the offer to him.
“It’s also brilliant to have Alex, captain of the Devon side XI and one of our own academy coaches, on the trip.”
Allen, who is 35, started coaching in his late teens while he was part of the Warwickshire CCC Academy in Birmingham.
A level two coaching qualification followed while studying at the University of Exeter, which led to working with club and schoolboy cricketers as part of the Spirit of Cricket programme.
Allen moved up to level three, which was his pathway to coaching Devon age-group sides.
Allen became one of only a handful of level four coaches in Devon when he completed that qualification in 2018.
Since moving to Exeter in 2004, Allen has played for Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth, Sandford and Devon.