Both Dr. Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards, and Mr. Charles Henry “Jim” Allen MBE were Honoured at the second edition of The Leeward Islands Cricket Board (LICB) Gold Jacket Award Ceremony (GJAC), held on Saturday, December 2nd, 2023. The event was held at The Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua, the home of West Indies Cricket.
The presentation recognising Jim Allen’s outstanding contribution during his cricketing career was delivered by Attorney-at-Law and former cricketer, Mr Owen “Ezad” Roach.
The full presentation by Attorney Roach is shared below:
All protocols observed. I would like to acknowledge the presence of the Minster of Education and Sports in Antigua & Barbuda the Honourable Daryl Mathew. President of CWI Dr Kishore Shallow; President of the Leeward Islands Cricket Board, Mr Enoch Lewis; President of the Antigua & Barbuda Cricket Association Mr. Kuma Rodney; Vice President of the Montserrat Cricket Association Mr. Ralston White; Dr Sir Andy Roberts, Sir Vivian Richards, Sir Richie Richardson and all other guest.
Charles "Henry Jim" Allen was born on 15th August 1951 in Harris Village, located in the Eastern Part of Montserrat. His parents were Handsome and Albertha Matilda Allen.
Allen starred in Montserrat’s local cricket scene from a young age, making his debut for the Montserrat national team in 1970, and his first-class debut on 15th January 1972, for Leeward Islands playing against the Windward Islands in Roseau Dominica where he scored 1 and 82.
An attacking right-hand batsman with an unorthodox, open–chest, wide-legs batting stance, Allen was soon considered to be one of the most exciting batsmen in the Leeward Islands.
The 2001, the late Antiguan political activist and Pan-Africanist Tim Hector said these words about Jim Allen: “In all the near fifty years between 1928 and 1973 when the first Leeward Islander emerged in Test Cricket, we all had our doubts in our abilities, despite bravado to the contrary. It was the mergence of Jim Allen and Sir Vivian Richards together with Elqemedo Willet as spinner and Sir Andy Roberts as fast bowler, which affirmed for the people of the Leewards that we, however small, however, a mere speck of dust on the world map, could climb the highest heights and rival the greats”.
In the Leewards Islands cricket tournament Jim Allen was one of the most exciting batsmen on display in the early 1970s. Some of Allen’s scores after he made his debut for Montserrat in 1970 were 148 vs St Kitts in 1971, 67 vs Nevis in Nevis in 1971, 162 vs Antigua in Antigua, [ against Sir Andy Roberts in 1972], 101 vs Antigua in 1973, [ against Sir Andy Roberts], 111 vs Antigua in Antigua in 1974, 141 vs Antigua in 1975. No other batsman in the history of Leeward Islands Cricket has dominated the pace attack of Antigua to date like Jim Allen did in the 1970’s. Jim Allen was small in stature but his mastery at the crease could not be missed.
In regional cricket Allen was equally punishing - with 5 centuries, and 19 half centuries for the Combined Islands Team at an average of just less than 35. His 101 vs Barbados at the Kensington Oval against an attack comprising Joel Garner and Vanburn Holder in 1977 is said to be his finest. Even better than his 150 for the Combined Islands vs Guyana at Sturge Park in Montserrat in 1977. Montserratians will always remember his mastery of the cut and hook shots in that innings against Colin Croft who was then a young man with express pace. Jim Allen’s highest score in regional cricket was 161 for the Combined Islands vs Jamaica in Grenada in 1979. Allen's best season was 1976/77, where he scored 559 first-class runs at 50.81, with the highest score of 150.
Allen played World Series cricket under the Kerry Packer banner for the West Indies in Australia from 1977 /1978. He also shared his cricket prowess in England, where he played League cricket in the Cheshire and Lancashire leagues for many years. At Werneth Cricket club and Hyde cricket club where he played as a member of these teams, his natural dashing style and aggressive cast of mind, won him many supporters year after year. For many years, Jim Allen was feared by bowlers in these leagues.
Following the end of World Series Cricket, Allen returned to the West Indies for the 1978/79 season where he scored his highest first-class score of 161 in Grenada against Jamaica.
His career came to an early end as he was forced to retire from cricket in 1983 following an eye injury sustained during a practice session at the Montserrat Secondary School in 1981. Upon his retirement, Allen had scored 3,067 first-class runs at 34.07. He also took three wickets at 30.00 with his right arm medium pace and took 42 catches, and one stumping.
Today, Jim Allen still resides in his home country Montserrat. Jim Allen was awarded an MBE for his services to cricket in Montserrat in 1978. In March of 2020 the Government of Montserrat bestowed upon Allen the Order of Excellence.
Tonight, I would like to thank the Leeward Islands Cricket Association for recognizing Jim Allen’s contribution to cricket as a Combined Islands and Leeward Islands Batsman.
On behalf of the Government and people of Montserrat, The Montserrat Cricket Association, Jim Allen’s family; Especially his son Davon Williams who is present tonight.The Right Honourable former cricket umpire in Montserrat, Mr. Basil Morgan; also Mr. Kingsley Howe - who have all played significant roles in Jim Allen’s life - we would like to say a big thank you to the President of the Leeward Islands Cricket Association, Mr. Enoch Lewis, Mr. Vernon Springer, and all other persons who made tonight’s event memorable.