By E. Glenford Prescott
The first captain of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) national Under 19 team cricket team has been honoured for his contribution to the sport for almost a half century.
“I have done my part and I am glad that the SVG Cricket Association has seen it fit to recognize me for what I have done. And it is always better to get that type of recognition what you are still here and not gone to the ‘great beyond,” Selwyn Allen said after being honoured by the SVG Cricket Association (SVGCA) for his contribution to the sport over the last 45 years.
Allen, a smooth top order batsman and useful wicketkeeper, was pushed into the annals of local cricket in 1970 when he was named to captain the first ever national Under 19 team.
His job was to lead the young Vincentians into battle against the touring young Australians led by Andrew Sincock. The Australians won the two-day match in a day and a half.
But Allen covered himself in glory by remaining unconquered in both innings with scores of 41* and 46*.
Prior to the match, it was expressed in some quarters that the Emmanuel High School Kingstown’s Cilene Davis, seen by many as a better ‘keeper should have been the man handed the glove.
But Allen disagrees.
“In the trial match, I was the captain and, therefore, I had to play. So there was no place for him. I must admit that he was a better ‘keeper, but in order to have balance in the team, I was the better batsman and a reasonable ‘keeper was the best choice in the eyes of the selectors.”
Allen said the debate never affected his state of mind as he just went into the match without giving it much thought and focused on his game. He admitted that while he did not allow any chances, he had some difficulty with the left arm spin of Henry John and the offspin of Stanley Hinds.
Allen was later made captain of the first Combined Schools team and led them to the Fraser/Neckles (First Division) title, supremacy of local cricket. He later joined the Saints Cricket Club as a wicketkeeper/batsman but was quickly forced to shelve the glove.
“With Mikey (Mike Findlay) in the team and as a West Indies wicketkeeper, I started bowling legspin and only kept when Mike was on tour,” he explained.
He played at the senior national level before undertaking studies overseas.
Over the years, the soft-spoken Allen has operated in various capacities in the sport, including selector, executive member, team manager, umpire and, recently, match referee.
“I am prepared to contribute in whichever way I can and this is one of the ways in which we can support and help to develop cricket here.”
Allen said he is saddened by the apparent falloff in the interest shown by youngsters but attributes this to the poor performance of the West Indies team and the bottleneck situation where only a few players will make it to the top. He also cites the other distractions faced by younger players as another reason.
He believes that individual countries will have to put programmes in place to arrest the decline in the sport and points to the work done by the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Association as a good example.
He said that the 45 years have been filled with satisfaction and there were some disappointments along the way but he has been able to retake his guard and focus on what is before him.
Allen, who has been the PRO of the SVG Cricket Umpires Association for the last decade or so, said he has no immediate intention of turning his back on the game.