Watch: It’s rare that a player picked for the Under-19 World Cup has evidence of their cricketing abilities that is more than a decade old, but that is the case for 18-year-old Charlie Allison, picked by England for the 2024 event.
The younger brother of county cricketer Ben Allison, Charlie, a right-hand batter, signed a rookie contract with Essex in July of this year, and was an ever-present in the 2023 One Day Cup campaign, making two fifties and averaging 36.58.
“I think if you just look how he’s gone about it, his level of performance for someone who’s hardly played second-team cricket never mind first team has really been superb throughout the whole thing,” said Essex coach Anthony McGrath. “He hasn’t been overawed, hasn’t looked out of place and he keeps putting in performances.”
But the hype around him goes back further. It even goes beyond him first joining the Essex Academy when he was nine years old. Allison first caught the eye when he was just six, when a video of him batting in the nets went viral, amassing nearly a quarter of a million views on YouTube.
The clip shows that, even then, Allison had all the shots: the picture-perfect cover drive, the leg-in-the-air pull shot, and even the cheeky reverse sweep. And it caught the eye of some notable names within the game.
“I saw the video posted on Facebook and was amazed that a six-year-old could have such a natural technique for someone of his age,” said Graham Napier, who the East Anglian Daily Times say was Allison’s favourite player at the time. “I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. If he continues to develop and gets the right mentoring who knows? In ten years’ time he may be signed up by Essex as a county cricketer and follow in the footsteps of players like Alastair Cook and myself.”
The clip was filmed by Ben Stephens, who set up Piripiri Cricket. Charlie Allison was signed up for an Under-11s session – despite only being six years old – and he instantly caught the eye.
“He started bowling seam and he knocked the stumps over and I thought he was awesome for his age,” Stephens told the East Anglian Daily Times. “When it came to his turn to bat and he had 11-year-olds bowling at him, I told Charlie to take his time as the ball would be coming at him quicker than what he was used to and to try to get in line and not to try any attacking shots. The first ball he faced he took a couple of steps down the wicket and played a good defensive shot. He then left the next ball, which was outside off stump and swung, and the next ball was a half volley outside off stump and he reverse swept it. I stood there in amazement. I said to Charlie ‘I said no attacking shots’ and he replied ‘It was along the ground’ and my chin just dropped.”
The youngster was then gifted a bat and kit in returning for shooting a video, which quickly made waves and was shared around the world.
Allison looked to have all the makings of a top-tier batter then. Now, after being picked in England’s squad for the Under-19 World Cup, he seems to be coming good on that promise.
The Under-19 World Cup will be hosted by South Africa in January and February 2024.