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The tragic death of Ben Hollioake

The tragic death of Ben Hollioake completely overshadowed the Second Test in Wellington.

Most of the 5,000 or so England fans on the ground first learned of the death of 24-year-old Ben at around 10.30am local time on the third day - around 30 minutes in to the extended day's play.

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew was doing a commentary stint on the local sports radio station when he uttered the words: "I have some very saddening news for England cricket fans listening..."

An eerie silence fell over the large crowd and it only became clear later that the then batsmen - skipper Nasser Hussain and Ben's Surrey team-mate Mark Butcher - were totally unaware of the terrible news.

The devastating news breaking during the middle of a Test match obviously hit everyone hard.

And the Barmy Army were left with a dilemma as Paul "Leafy" Burnham explained.

He said: "Everyone was shocked and saddened by the news - a debate went on about whether it would be appropriate to sing Ben's name in his memory as there was no precedent for this sort of thing.

"We had to deal with this in a responsible and sombre manner and we obviously took the view of the England team into account - Ben's Surrey team-mates Mark Butcher and Graham Thorpe were batting in the morning session and were unaware of the tragedy.

"In the end we thought of what we would have wanted if we were Ben Hollioake and we decided to sing his name, but not until after the tea interval when everyone - including the England team - knew.

"It's something that has happened in football. When West Brom legend Geoff Astle died recently, all the Albion fans chanted his name at the next game.

"In fact I'm told this has been happening at most Albion games since, showing just how much he meant to them.

"Perhaps this is something that might happen at future England cricket matches to remember Ben - I don't know.

"We hope it didn't put the players off.

"In the press conference afterwards Nasser said it was particularly difficult for them fielding when Ben's name was song.

"However I think he meant that this just brought home to the team just how much Ben meant to everyone.

"I know that when the England and New Zealand teams held a minute's silence in memory of Ben before the start of the fourth day's play it was one immaculately observed by everyone on the ground.

"All our thoughts are with Ben's family at this terrible time.

"I hope we never have to deal with anything like this again."

The term tragedy is often overused nowadays, but the snuffing out of such a bright shining light as Ben at such a young age is surely one event to which the word can be justifiably applied.

Ben had a gifted talent and was a natural athlete with more than rare ability at several other sports as well as cricket for which he will always be remembered.

A larger than life character off the field - he was a young man who lived life to the full.

In years to come the death of Ben may be placed alongside the sad loss of James Dean, River Phoenix and, in a sporting context, Duncan Edwards - natural talents who died before achieving their peak.

We will never know just what Ben's prodigious talents - yet to fully blossom but already given a brief and all too short airing in the public eye - would have allowed him to go on and achieve in the game.

Farewell Ben - there will be thousands of us will remember you and your precocious and often stunning talent.