The 2022-23 season was not a great summer for Finn Allen. At the start of the season, he had a disappointing 2022 T20 World Cup by managing just 95 runs in five innings. He then lasted more than 20 balls only once in the remaining five T20Is that summer and his ODI form also lost sheen after a glittering start. A year later, he didn’t get a ticket for the ODI World Cup in India.
This summer, though, has been remarkable for him in T20s. Let’s go back a few months to another summer, the one in England. Allen smashed 240 runs from nine outings in the Hundred, only behind Jos Buttler’s tally of 391, with a strike rate of nearly 145 that helped Southern Brave reach the playoffs. He stayed back for the T20Is against England and blasted 83 off 53 in the third game before returning for the home summer where his last six T20 scores (both domestic and international) have been 137, 74, 34, 78*, 50 and 38.
Finn Allen, perfect and imperfect all at once
Allen's record-breaking 137 seals the series for New Zealand with two games left
Finn Allen equals world record with 16 sixes
The latest of those was 137 off 62 balls in the third T20I against Pakistan, studded with a record-breaking 16 sixes that made his score the highest by a New Zealand player in T20Is. So what’s changed for him this season?
“I think I’m just evaluating risk and times that I want to take a high-risk option,” he said after the Pakistan game. “Maybe prior to this summer was a little bit all over the show and not so much control but I’m trying to have more control now and be a bit more decisive.
“I’m working on just adapting to the scenario better, situations better, and I guess picking my moments to go. I’m basically trying to have a stable base and build off that and expand my game from there.”
The stable base was on show in Dunedin where he let his flourishing swings and hand-eye coordination do all the work to belt all his sixes in the arc from long-off to square leg. He stood tall to either swing down the ground or put away the short balls with pulls whenever Pakistan erred with their lengths, even if they came with a change of pace.
That he could score at a very high strike rate was evident even before this season, but now he is also being consistent, something he has been working on since returning to his home team Auckland before this domestic season. His scores in the ongoing T20I series – 137, 74 and 34 – are a testimony to his consistency, which bodes well for both Allen and New Zealand in the build-up to the T20 World Cup in June.
Along the way, Allen has also been taking down some big names. After a 26 off 17 in the opening Super Smash game, he struck 50 off 24 against Wellington where he took down Ben Sears for 20 off just six balls. In his unbeaten 78 off 46 balls after that, he punished Ish Sodhi for a sequence of 6, 4 and 6 after the powerplay to hit him for 22 runs off seven balls. On Wednesday, it was Pakistan’s Haris Rauf who came in his way and Allen blasted him for 47 off just 14 with the help of six sixes and two fours.
Allen says a lot of it comes down to his preparations before the games because the “fickle” nature of the format can turn the tide quickly.
“I come back to my basics and making sure that before a game I know my basics,” he said. “And going into a game I feel like I’ve ticked everything off. It’s such a fickle game, the tide can turn real quick so knowing that I’ve ticked everything off before a game and can put it down to execution and plans.”
With two more T20Is to go in the series and another home T20I series against Australia next month, Allen will hope his hot streak continues this summer.
Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo