Hollioake brothers in fight for their futures (10 January 1999)

10 January 1999

Hollioake brothers in fight for their futures

By Paul Newman

THIS TIME last year they had the cricket world at their feet, one the successful captain of his country's one-day side, the other the brightest young talent in England. Now all that has changed.

England began six months of concentrated limited-overs cricket at the Gabba today when they faced Australia in the opening match of the Carlton and United Series before taking on Sri Lanka tomorrow. Two members of their 16-man party, in particular, have much to play for.

Adam and Ben Hollioake, indeed, are playing for their international futures.

That scenario could never have been envisaged 12 months ago. Adam, the older, brasher but less naturally gifted sibling, had just led England to a one-day title in Sharjah, having been awarded the limited-overs captaincy while Mike Atherton rested ahead of the West Indies tour.

Ben, meanwhile, looked to have finally provided the answer to England's never-ending search for an all-rounder, two sublime innings at Lord's in 1997 - one for England, one for Surrey - suggesting a rare ability.

Those breathtaking knocks, however, have become a millstone round the neck of Hollioake the younger as he has failed consistently, apart from glimpses of class with England A in Sri Lanka during a tour which will always be remembered for his alleged drug-related comments to a magazine, to fulfil his potential.

For him, barring any spectacular contributions in Australia, time is running out if he is to feature in this summer's World Cup in England. "The fact is, Ben just cannot live on two knocks that happened a long time ago," said David Graveney, who has now taken over from Graham Gooch as England's manager here in Brisbane. "I've had a long chat with him and, really, his tour hasn't started yet. We need some performances from him and we need them now. Maybe it will help him having his brother here. There are certain things brother can say to brother which are harder for others to spell out."

Adam Hollioake is much more likely to play in the World Cup, but his career has still tumbled since the false one-day dawn of Sharjah, the ability of a number of bits-and-pieces players to flourish on slow pitches being foolishly regarded as evidence that England's planning for the World Cup was on the right tracks.

The Sharjah heroes were soon brought crashing to earth in the one-day series in the West Indies and Hollioake lost the captaincy to Alec Stewart after South Africa took the Texaco Trophy last year.

By then Adam's Test place, secured briefly in the Caribbean, was also gone and it now looks doubtful whether he will ever claim it back. As for Sharjah, even Adam subsequently cast doubts over its validity by claiming in a national newspaper that he was offered money by bookmakers for information there and publicly wondered whether certain opponents might not have been giving their all.

The legendary confidence that characterises Adam's game, remains firmly intact as emphasised by the way he shrugged off a drug-related comment of his own when he was dehydrated after briefly regaining the helm in Bangladesh in Stewart's absence. Then there was the self-assured way he joined in with the Test team's practices and took up a place in the dressing room during a visit to Perth for the second Ashes Test.

Yet maybe even the one-day vice-captaincy for the World Cup could be beyond him. England have, significantly, decided not to name a deputy to Stewart here and Hollioake led them in their convincing victory against Queensland on Friday only because Stewart and Nasser Hussain were rested. It seems probable that, if Hussain can repeat his Ashes form in the one-day arena, then he has every chance of extending his Test vice-captaincy to the World Cup.

"We don't feel there's any need to name a vice-captain at the moment," said Graveney. "We haven't established our thinking on that one."

England's World Cup hopes have hardly been enhanced in the last year, a thrashing in the West Indies being followed by series defeats by South Africa in early summer and Sri Lanka in the triangular final in August.

TEAMS.-Australia (from): S Warne (capt), M Waugh, G Blewett, M Bevan, D Lehmann, R Ponting, A Gilchrist (wkt), B Young, B Julian, D Fleming, A Dale, G McGrath.

England (from): A Stewart (capt and wkt), N Knight, G Hick, N Hussain, J Crawley, V Wells, N Fairbrother, B Hollioake, A Hollioake, M Alleyne, M Ealham, R Croft, A Giles, D Headley, D Gough, A Mullally.

TRIANGULAR ONE-DAY SERIES.- Today: England v Australia (Brisbane). Tomorrow: England v Sri Lanka (Brisbane). 13: Sri Lanka v Australia (Sydney). 15: England v Australia (Melbourne). 17: England v Australia Sydney). 19: England v Sri Lanka (Melbourne). 21: Sri Lanka v Australia (Hobart). 23: England v Sri Lanka (Adelaide). 24: Sri Lanka v Australia (Adelaide). 26: England v Australia (Adelaide). 29: England v Sri Lanka (Perth). 31: Sri Lanka v Australia (Perth).

Feb 3: England v Sri Lanka (Sydney). 5: England v Australia (Sydney). 7: Sri Lanka v Australia (Melbourne).

Feb 10: First limited-overs final (Sydney). 12: Second limited-overs final (Melbourne). 14: Third limited-overs final (Melbourne).

Source :: Electronic Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk)