Twenty20 Cup June 19, 2007

Hollioake signs for Essex

Adam Hollioake is set to return to Twenty20 - but for Essex © Getty Images

Adam Hollioake has signed a short-term deal with Essex and will take part in their Twenty20 campaign which gets underway against Sussex at Chelmsford on Friday.

Hollioake, the former Surrey captain who played four Tests and 35 one-day internationals for England, proved himself a master of Twenty20 cricket during its first two years before retiring from the game at the end of the 2004 season.

He averaged 28.55 at a strike-rate of 147.70 with the bat while his efforts with the ball were even more impressive, claiming 36 victims in 14 matches with a strike-rate of a wicket every 8.36 balls.

Since retirement, Hollioake has played one Twenty20, for the Tsunami Fund in 2005, in which he took a hat-trick. He then went back to Australia, where he has been living since retirement. He is now a full-time property developer.

"I love playing Twenty20 cricket and this fits in very nicely because, with my business commitments, it's impossible to commit to the training required to play all year round," Hollioake told Cricinfo. "With this being the best time of year in England this was an offer too good to refuse. I'm fitter than ever, too."

Hollioake led Surrey to the inaugural Twenty20 title in 2003, and is expected to play all eight of Essex's group matches, including a tasty fixture against his former team-mates next Thursday. Three of Essex's four home matches have already sold out.

Hollioake returned to England recently to take part in a charity boxing match, where he fought the New Zealand former All Black Eric Rush. The bout, at Old Billingsgate earlier this month, was won by Rush on points. "It was tough."

Hollioake has since remained in the country, as speculation has mounted about his prospective deal with Essex. The move stemmed from Hollioake's appearance in a beach-cricket tournament in Australia in January which left Essex coach Graham Gooch impressed.

Jenny Thompson is assistant editor of Cricinfo