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Edward Liddle's Biographies of Irish Cricketers
Charles Allen
  • Born
  • Educated
  • Occupation
  • Debut 7 August 1926 v MCC at Ormeau
  • Cap Number 347
  • Style Right hand bat; right arm fast medium
  • Teams Cliftonville

Charles Allen was a good all round cricketer, who was an essential part of the moderately successful Cliftonville side of the mid 1920s. His positive contributions with bat and ball helped his club to the NCU Challenge Cup final of 1925. Unfortunately they were then overwhelmed by their opponents NICC, the Ormeau men winning by 10 wickets. However Charles, at least, had some reason to feel satisfied. Though he failed to take a wicket, he was the only Cliftonville batsman to offer any genuine resistance to the North pace attack of William Pollock and Arthur Douglas as they bundled their opponents out for 78. Batting at no 5, Charles made a courageous 35, before Pollock, who finished with six wickets, caught and bowled him. North did not find batting much easier, but the skills of Pollock and JC Walton saw them to a surprisingly comfortable victory in the end. Cliftonville did rather better in their second innings, though Charles contributed only 10, before being stumped off Douglas. Considering that the Inst schoolmaster and double international was on the fast side of medium, this was a skilful piece of wicket keeping by North gloveman George McCance.

Charles was also prominent in the Cliftonville side that won the Senior league in 1926, the year in which he made his sole appearance for Ireland against MCC at Ormeau. He owed his place to the selectors' decision to pick a very different team for this match than the one due to appear at College Park. Furthermore there were seven late changes, so that Charles, one of the replacements, took the field with four other new caps, all of whom, apart from left arm paceman James Fleming, were never to play again. Charles could claim with some justification - and possibly did - that he hardly had a fair chance to prove his worth.

Under the eccentric captaincy of Sir George Colthurst, an eccentric selection both as a player and leader, he did not get a bowl in MCC first innings of 189. Then he found himself at seventh wicket down when Ireland batting. The baronet, using his captain's prerogative, placed himself at 5. Charles was not the only superior batsman to suffer from this odd decision. He did manage to make 11 when he batted, but fell to left arm medium pacer Leslie Hancock just as he was getting set. Hancock, who played a handful of first class matches, was to die in action in Normandy five weeks after D Day. Despite Sir George's batting orders, Ireland gained a first innings lead of 30. Charles was given two overs in MCC's second innings, just before, it being a two day match, the declaration. He speedily made his point to the Squire of Blarney Castle by getting a wicket, that of Army officer and wicket keeper/batsman David Grose (35), with his first ball. He finished with 2-7. Rain cut into the Irish run chase and, though some early wickets fell and David Pigot batted attractively, there was never much of a result. Charles Allen had not let Ireland down, but nor had he done enough to earn a recall,

NB: it will be seen from the above that, despite research by this writer and others for the best part of 30 years, several of Allen's key biographical details remain missing. Any information would be most gratefully received.