Allen enjoyed a remarkable breakthrough season in New Zealand’s Super Smash
Lancashire have announced the signings of Finn Allen, the 21-year-old New Zealand batsman, and Jackson Bird, the experienced Australian seamer, as overseas players for the T20 Blast and County Championship respectively.
Allen enjoyed a breakout season for Wellington in this year’s Super Smash, hitting a competition-leading 512 runs at 56.88 with a strike rate of 193.93. His feats earned him an IPL contract at Royal Challengers Bangalore as a replacement for Josh Philippe, and he will travel straight to the UK from India for the start of the T20 Blast.
Allen is yet to make his international debut – though was named as a standby player during the series against Australia last month – and has played only 13 professional T20 games. As a result, he would have fallen short of the ECB’s requirements for a visa, but he is able to appear as an overseas player thanks to a British passport, which he has previously used to play for MCC Young Cricketers and for Brondesbury in the Middlesex League.
“I’m really excited to get over to England,” Allen said. “It will be my first spell in county cricket and a great opportunity test myself in one of the world’s best T20 tournaments. To win the Super Smash, and finish as leading run scorer in my breakthrough T20 tournament, has provided me with a platform and I am now looking forward to continuing to learn and improve as a cricketer.
“Lancashire is a huge Club with a proud history and I absolutely can’t wait to play at Emirates Old Trafford throughout the Vitality Blast competition. They’ve got a very talented, young and exciting squad so I’m really looking forward to joining up with the group later this year to hopefully challenge for the title.”
Bird, the Australian fast bowler, is due to arrive in the UK in time to play Lancashire’s third Championship fixture of the season against Kent following the end of his Sheffield Shield commitments with Tasmania, and will be available for six matches.
With Richard Gleeson still recovering from the back injury that limited him to a single first-class appearance last summer and James Anderson’s workload likely to be managed carefully by England, Bird will add fast-bowling depth to Lancashire’s squad. He will fill their second overseas slot for the first group stage of the Championship, alongside club captain Dane Vilas.
Lancashire will be Bird’s third county, following previous spells with Hampshire and Nottinghamshire. He has played nine Tests for Australia, taking 34 wickets at 30.64, but has not made an international appearance since 2017.
“I’ve felt in good form during this year’s Sheffield Shield and hope I can continue this into the English summer and help the club in the LV= County Championship,” Bird said.
“I feel as though I have unfinished business in English county cricket, and I am looking forward to showing my best to my new teammates and the Members and supporters at Emirates Old Trafford.”
Paul Allott, the club’s director of cricket, said: “Jackson’s skills bowling with the new ball and his vast experience will complement our current pace attack nicely.
“Following Graham Onions’ retirement at the end of last season, it was important that we were able to add depth to our quick bowling ranks and help to replace his on-field leadership of the attack. Richard Gleeson will be unavailable due to a back injury for the first part of the season, so Jackson will give us another option for those six four-day fixtures.
“Jackson’s accuracy and ability to swing the ball means that he is an incredibly useful asset to have in English bowling conditions and I am looking forward to seeing him in action for Lancashire this summer.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98