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Tuesday, October 19, 1999 Published at 10:55 GMT 11:55 UK


Boo-boo aims for error-free ride

Alleyne leads Gloucestershire to NatWest Trophy glory against Somerset

Given the England cricket team's questionable record of diplomacy on the subcontinent, it was perhaps unwise for the selectors to choose Mark Alleyne, a player who goes by the nickname Boo-boo, to captain England A to Bangladesh and New Zealand this winter.

The name was, in fact, inspired by the inseparable friendship Alleyne struck up with the burly fast bowler "Syd" Lawrence in his early days at Gloucestershire.

Lawrence (big and loud) was soon nicknamed Yogi Bear and Alleyne (quiet and reserved) Boo-boo.

Appearances can be deceptive, however.


[ image: Alleyne toured with England's one-day team last winter]
Alleyne toured with England's one-day team last winter
Alleyne is nobody's dozy sidekick and his appointment to captain the A side was due recognition for three good years at the helm at Gloucestershire, which culminated in the county last season winning both the B&H Super Cup and NatWest Trophy.

Indeed, Alleyne's one-day prowess has been recognised with selection for the England one-day party to tour South Africa and Zimbabwe in the New Year.

Alleyne might say he is "flattered" to have been given the job but he is commendably unwilling to see the A tour as the be-all and end-all of his, or his team's, ambitions.

"Ultimately you want to win, that is the underlying factor on any of these tours," he told BBC News Online, "but in addition to that all of us want to develop our game.

"There is a reason why we have not been chosen for the first XI and that is because the selectors did not think we were good enough.

Building for future

"There are some very ambitious people in the squad. It is a challenge and a responsibility to work with a group of guys who are all the future of English cricket. I was flattered that the responsibility was put my way.


[ image: Mike Gatting: The ex-England captain is now England A manager]
Mike Gatting: The ex-England captain is now England A manager
"There is a dual role on an A tour of trying to get into the full Test side yourself but also guiding the other guys."

Alleyne, 31, has not always been seen as captaincy material (some wrongly questioned whether he had the strength to lead a county side).

Bangladesh, the first leg of the tour, will be a true test of his merits.

First and foremost, he must acclimatise his players to life in the subcontinent where England teams are notoriously bad travellers.

Of added incentive, the senior side are scheduled to visit Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India on full tours over the next two winters.

"The two Test matches and three one-day internationals in New Zealand are the five biggest games of the tour so, in a sense, everything will be preparation for that, " Alleyne said.

"We have talked about having no pre-conceptions about what Bangladesh is going to be like. It is going to be a great experience and let's leave it at that."





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