On Wednesday, March 10, it was announced that the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) had roped in Finn Allen as replacement for Australia’s Josh Philippe. But who exactly is Finn Allen? And what can the RCB fans expect from Allen in the forthcoming season?
Who is Finn Allen?
Finn Allen is a 21-year-old opening batsman from New Zealand who has been the talk of the town within the cricketing fraternity for the past two or so months. A ridiculously aggressive right-handed opening batsman who is an epitome of destruction, Allen represented New Zealand in the 2017/18 Under 19 World Cup which was won by the Prithvi Shaw-led India. In that competition, Allen struck 338 runs at an average of 67.60 at a remarkable strike rate of 119.01, and, ever since, he has been earmarked for great things. He started his career with Auckland and then moved to Wellington last season, a move that has proven to be extremely fruitful thus far. Last week, in fact, the 21-year-old was named as a standby for Martin Guptill in the Kiwi squad in the T20Is against Australia.
Okay, but why has he been in the news recently?
Finn Allen has been in the news recently because he absolutely tore the Super Smash - New Zealand’s premier domestic T20 competition - apart. In the recently-concluded 2020/21 edition of the Super Smash, Allen, representing Wellington Firebirds, struck an astonishing 512 runs at an average of 56.88 and SR of 193.93. Opening the batting with New Zealand’s other latest sensation, Devon Conway, Allen torched bowling units in the competition and led Wellington to the title. The brute power of Allen ensured that Wellington lost just one match all tournament en route to the trophy.
But this is not all. Less than a fortnight ago, in the Ford Trophy, the 21-year-old struck a mind-boggling 59-ball 128 versus Otago, which included 11 humongous sixes. This 128 was Allen’s first-ever List A century, and though it came 10 days post the conclusion of the IPL 2021 auction, it was enough to get the online cricketing community talking about him yet again.
Okay, so if he is that good, why wasn’t he picked in the IPL 2021 auction?
A variety of reasons, not least the fact that the IPL 2021 auction had all but no demand for openers. In an auction which saw the likes of Alex Hales, Aaron Finch and Jason Roy go unsold, it was little surprise that Allen joined the bunch. But that Allen went unsold initially had less to do with his quality and more with his inexperience. He tore the Super Smash apart, yes, but despite that, he is an unproven rookie who is inexperienced: to date, he has only featured in 13 T20 games. Unlike a Tom Banton, Allen, prior to the auction, had not played anywhere outside New Zealand, and the Super Smash is considered a tournament that is significantly inferior in quality in comparison to the PSL, BBL and CPL, owing to the absence of world-class overseas players. Thus, though he was priced at 20 lakh, franchises were apprehensive at bidding for Allen, who they thought was too raw.
What can RCB fans expect from Allen in the forthcoming season?
It would be better to tone down expectations. Allen, no doubt, has an astonishing record, but it would be wise to not pile the pressure on the kid. He would never have encountered conditions like what he will come up against in the IPL, and the quality of bowling he will be facing in the tournament - should he play - will also be a significant upgrade on whatever he has come up against, thus far in his short career. So while Allen is undoubtedly a batsman with prodigious talent, expecting him to fire in the forthcoming edition would be unrealistic. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he, in fact, ends up spending the entirety of the IPL 2021 season on the bench.
Why did RCB sign Allen, when the likes of Alex Hales and Aaron Finch were available?
Simple - RCB, last year, purchased Josh Philippe for a base price of 20 lakh. As per the rules, franchises can only sign a replacement player with a similar or lower base price, thus the likes of Finch, Hales and Roy - who had significantly higher base prices - became ineligible. Allen had a base price of 20 lakh, so it was a no brainer for Mike Hesson, who has seen the progress of the youngster over the years, to snap up the 21-year-old budding superstar.