'I've got no complaints and no regrets'
At the age of 32, Adam Hollioake is ready to call time on an eventful and largely successful career with Surrey and England. He was picked for only four Tests, but played 35 one-dayers, and captained England 14 times, leading them to victory in the Champions Trophy at Sharjah in 1997. Hollioake, a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2003, also guided Surrey to three Championship titles, and as he prepares to hang up his boots, he spoke to Freddie Auld at a rainy Rose Bowl:
Are you looking forward to your retirement?
Yeah, I have been for a while, to be honest. I will miss some bits of the game, but not others.
Was your decision to stand down from first-class cricket just due to your ankle injury?
Yes, it's been hurting for the last six weeks or so, and after a long day in the field I've been really struggling the next day. It was the logical decision to stop the four-day game and only play in the National League matches.
Did you feel that the four-day game was becoming a grind?
Not really, it was just that other things became more important to me. I needed to do other things that I wanted to pursue like spending more time with my family and my business interests in Australia. They were big factors and the two main reasons I decided to retire.
What do you put Surrey's disappointing season down to?
Injuries, mainly. Saqlain Mushtaq, Alex Tudor, Martin Bicknell and Ian Salisbury have all been successful bowlers here for the past six or seven years, and when you take them out, it leaves a big hole. Without them, other bowlers have had to put in more work than they are used to, and they then become tired and that culminates in more injuries. It's nothing to do with myself not being captain anymore - unless I have a magic wand to stop injuries.
How has county cricket changed down the years?
It's a much better game now. When I started, it was a crazy mixture of threeand four-day matches, and you would have to travel all round the country day after day. In all the matches we played, only five or six would be competitive, another five or six would be OK, and the rest would be a waste of time - we knew we would win before we even turned up. Now every game is competitive and each side we play is a lot stronger, and this will eventually make the England team stronger. The game is definitely heading in the right direction, with better pitches, four-day cricket and two divisions helping that.
|`I wanted to spend more time with my family, and on my business interests in Australia'|
One big change has been the Twenty20 Cup, do you think it's a good thing?
I think so, maybe not so much for player development, but more so for getting new faces and kids to come and watch the game. You can then take that interest and branch it out to the longer version of the game. I'm sure everyone would like to see it played at an international level as it's been so popular, mainly because the normal game is so long. If you told someone that a great movie lasted for eight hours for four days, would you come and watch it? Probably not.
It must have been disappointing to have lost this year's Twenty20 Cup final?
Yes it was, but that's part of cricket. We were lucky to have won some of our games this year, and it was about time we lost one.
Looking back on your international career, do you feel that you could still play for the England one-day team?
I could have done recently, but I doubt that it would have been good for the future of the team. I know I wouldn't have been an embarrassment and I would have done myself justice, but it wouldn't have been good in the long term. I respected the selectors' decisions and I wasn't disappointed as I knew England were heading in the right direction.
Do you feel you were unfairly overlooked for the 2003 World Cup?
Not really. It was a line-ball decision, and I respect that. I've been a selector myself with Surrey and England, so I know how difficult the job is. That's why I'm never one to complain about decisions - I would be a hypocrite if I did. They were in a process of rebuilding and I just hope they don't throw it all away and don't panic, especially after the NatWest Series. It's easy to pick a young team, but it's a lot more difficult to stick with them.
Was it frustrating to go to Australia before the 2003 World Cup knowing you probably weren't going to make the final squad?
It was out of my hands. There was no point in playing me if I wasn't going to feature in the World Cup. You just have to get on with it.
In terms of your international career, do you feel slightly hard done by?
I've got no regrets. I was lucky enough to have played for my country, and to captain it. There's around 60 million people who will never get the chance to play for England, so it would be disrespectful to them to complain about not playing more times. I've got no complaints and no regrets.
Would you play in the Twenty20 game against Australia next summer if asked?
I'm not sure I would be asked, to be honest. I'd have to seriously consider it if I was, but I'm not sure. They would probably want the young guys to play, but I would be interested.
Could you be persuaded to play in only Twenty20 matches for Surrey next season?
It's the same situation. I'd think about it. One of the reasons I'm retiring is to spend time with my family and parents in Australia, and it would be unfair to bring them over for another season, but to come over for just one month, then maybe.
What do you make of the current England Test team?
They're a very strong side. It helps that they have two truly world-class players in Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison, who they build the team around. Flintoff is probably the best cricketer in the world at the moment - he has the ability to turn a game round in a short period of time - and Harmison is one of the fastest bowlers in the world.
Are those two the secret of their success?
Any side has key players who they build the team around. We have done it with Bicknell and Saqlain at Surrey, and others breed off their confidence, as has happened with the England side. I've also been impressed with Michael Vaughan's captaincy, not so much tactically, which is something the media build up to be more important than it is, but more behind the scenes in the way he has managed to get the team playing for each other, which hasn't happened for a while. I think he's been outstanding and he's going from strength to strength.
What's the problem in the one-day team?
They're just rebuilding at the moment. They're looking ahead to the World Cup, and hopefully they'll stick with the same team. Of course some aren't going to make it as three years is a long time, but once they get more experience and a few new players come in, they'll improve. Australia will still be the favourites at the World Cup, but after them, England are as good as any other side.
Do you think England have a chance in next year's Ashes?
I think they do, but they have to plan to attack and not contain them. The Australians will attack from the start, and England have to stay with them head to toe. There will be days when they will get hurt, and the real test will be how they bounce back from that when it happens.
What are your immediate plans after the end of the season?
I'm going to do some charity work for the Ben Hollioake Fund, involving a world-record relay attempt at Crystal Palace in October, and then I'm going back to Perth in December when I'll start concentrating on my property-development business.
Do you think you'll watch much cricket once you've retired?
I'm not overly good at watching cricket. But I'll probably watch a bit, as well as other sports like rugby, boxing and water sports, which I love as well.
Do you plan to get into coaching?
Not really - I'm sick of the sound of my own voice. It's not in my immediate plans, but you never know.
Have you thought about writing a book?
Quite a few people have tried to talk me into it, but I haven't done it yet.
Will you be sad to quit the game?
Of course I will be. I have a lot of good memories, and made a lot of good friends - too many to mention. I'll be sad about that, but I won't miss the motorways, the hotels and the warm-ups.
What has been your career highlight?
It's a hard choice, but I think winning the Championship in 1999 was my best moment. I've had a lot of individual good days and Man-of-the-Match performances with England, but you tend to celebrate those on your own as you've only been playing with the other guys for a year or two. Winning the Championship was something we had aimed to achieve and was a long-term goal, and something I could celebrate with people I had grown up with. I've had so many highlights, and although that's probably not the most high-profile moment, it was the most enjoyable.
Finally, how would you describe your career in three words?
I'll give you four - always tried my best.