Mark Alleyne hoping to ignite Welsh Fire as The Hundred returns
Mark Alleyne hopes teaming up with Gary Kirsten can ignite Welsh Fire’s fortunes in the men’s Hundred this season and help the pair enjoy more white-ball success.
Welsh Fire finished bottom of the inaugural competition with only two wins but Kirsten, who won this year’s Indian Premier League with Gujarat Titans as batting coach, has reacted by changing the playing personnel and bringing in a serial winner.
Alleyne enjoyed a trophy-laden spell with Gloucestershire and helped them win nine one-day titles across seven seasons between 1999 and 2006.
This included victory in three successive Lord’s finals and he would love to be back at the Home of Cricket competing to win The Hundred on September 3.
He said: “It does put you in good stead being around winning groups, so that is important.
“Gary has his own pedigree too. He just won the IPL recently and he will be buzzing and ready to go.”
Welsh Fire open up this year’s Hundred on Wednesday with a clash at the Ageas Bowl against champions Southern Brave and are the representative of first-class clubs Glamorgan, Somerset and Gloucestershire.
Alleyne’s achievements are written into Gloucestershire’s folklore with the former England international joining the county in 1986 and becoming a mainstay as an all-rounder, wicketkeeper and finally captain before taking over as head coach in 2004.
He departed after three seasons of coaching having been an integral part of one of English cricket’s most successful one-day teams with two Benson & Hedges Super Cup triumphs complimented by four C&G Trophy – formerly known as the NatWest Trophy – successes and a solitary Sunday League victory during a 2000 campaign where they won the white-ball treble.
“Once it is happening you don’t maybe appreciate it as much but looking back retrospectively, it was a fantastic run and it hasn’t been matched properly since,” the 54-year-old reflected.
“In some ways the secret is there is no secret! It is just accepting and demanding every inch from the full squad and not kicking back or relying on certain people to win you a game.
“The best teams can accommodate everyone and make them feel special, even if their moment was only five or 10 minutes, or three balls, whatever it may take. I think that is how you get a really consistent level of performance from the whole group.”
Given Alleyne’s decorated playing career and strong start to life as a coach, winning the C&G Trophy in 2004 and leading Gloucestershire to their only Twenty20 final in 2007, a sense of bewilderment remains that he then spent more than a decade absent from the county game.
He is honest enough to concede it was partly down to his own decision to spend more time with his young family but did find plenty of doors shut despite a lengthy spell as head coach of the MCC.
It was Gloucestershire and former team-mate Ian Harvey who gave him a route back in last year as one of their assistant coaches in a part-time capacity and he has toured the West Indies and Netherlands since with England’s white-ball teams.
Alleyne added: “It is really exciting for me to get back in.
“It wasn’t cricket’s fault entirely. Yes, I went to the MCC (in 2009) to improve and understand my general coaching philosophy really. I thought I would be there for three, maybe four years and then I would be ready to get back into first-class cricket. It was at that time I couldn’t find any opportunities.
“I then took my eye off the first-class ball a little bit but once my kids got to an age where I was happy with where they were at, I started to reengage and so far some options have been coming up.
“I have had some nice opportunities with England, with Gloucestershire and now with Welsh Fire. I feel as though the next four or five years will be quite exciting.”
After a prolonged absence, Alleyne wants to seize his moment and play a part in helping inspire a new generation of black coaches.
In an alternative world, Alleyne is the England white-ball head coach and Kirsten is in charge of the national Test set-up after both went for interviews this summer, but instead they are aiming to mastermind a Welsh Fire turnaround.
Going from bottom to Hundred winners in 12 months could help Alleyne fulfil a long-term ambition.
“I would love to see more black coaches out there,” he insisted. “I hope if anything, this will give everyone the encouragement to get fully qualified, put themselves out there and at least give them a chance of a role.
“I believe I have the skills and that is how I have always operated. I look at myself first and say can I do this job and impact the England team? When I can tell myself yes, of course I will put myself forward into a position to tackle it.
“I wouldn’t do anything for tokenism, I am not wired that way but at the moment I really feel like I can impact English cricket and I would love to do that with the national side.”
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