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Tough day for England as they lose team-mate Ben Hollioake

England captain Nasser Hussain has faced many tough moments in his captaincy career, but coming to grips with the loss of team-mate Ben Hollioake, who died in a car accident in Perth this morning, in the middle of a Test match was among the toughest.

Hussain spoke of his admiration for Ben Hollioake the man, at the after-match press conference in Wellington, New Zealand today.

Hussain only found out about Hollioake's death when coming in from batting through most of the morning session today and said it had been an absolute shock.

"It won't be easy for a while, he was very close to this team.

"He wasn't just some cricketer, somewhere, that we once played with.

"This was a lad the coach coached. The physio rubbed his achilles four weeks ago. I left him out four weeks ago, so he's very close to the team.

"It was a difficult day today. After lunch when you heard that one of your mates had gone it was difficult for everyone."

But Hussain said there were no excuses being offered on the day's play from the news. The cricket was really irrelevant, and a side issue, compared with the fact the players had lost a friend who three to four weeks ago had been messing around with the players, who they had been having dinner with all winter, and having a laugh with.

"He's that sort of bloke. He's a very popular man in that dressing room.

"The cricket goes on but something more important happened today than what happened out on that park.

"It's a small blow compared with what his family is going through, but it's a big blow for us in that dressing room," Hussain said.

It had been tough to see video clips of Hollioake batting before going back out to start play after lunch, and it had been hard when the Barmy Army had started singing out his name.

New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming had approached Hussain before the resumption and told him the side were sorry to hear the news.

"Then they got stuck in afterwards like you'd expect any side to. So they played it just about right. He's a top guy," Hussain said of Fleming.

"He was a top lad," Hussain repeated of Hollioake.

"All through that one-day series, when we left him out, he was just coming up to me and saying, 'You know Nass I'm there for you.' He's just a good egg.

"My thoughts and the thoughts of the team are with his family, his brother and anyone who knew him because he was a bloody good bloke basically. He was right up there with the top blokes.

"Externally people have got the wrong idea of him. He was hyper-confident, so people thought he was this cocksure lad. But anyone who played with him knew he'd be there for you all the time. He'd be there for you, backing you up, even away from the cricket he was there for you.

"It's just such a tragedy that such a talented, outgoing lad, he had everything going for him, not just talking cricket, and it's a big blow.

"It's been hard all the time since we've heard, at least now we can go back and think about it.

"All day we've been thinking about him when we've been playing in the middle of a Test match as well. I've never known a quieter dressing room. They're just sitting there. It's difficult, there's not a lot to talk about, what do you talk about.

"It's irrelevant compared with what's happened today. We'll just have to regroup, we're professionals," he said.

Fleming said it was a sad day for international cricket and cricket in general. A lot of the New Zealand side had played with Hollioake in youth cricket.

"He was a wonderful talent, and a good guy," he said.

The situation had cast a strange atmosphere over the game, and that had been easier for New Zealand to cope with than England, under the circumstances.

"We do feel for them a lot, it will be a tough few days for them," Fleming said.

He said he had only briefly met with Hollioake but had watched a lot of his cricket, especially his cricket when he first broke into the England team against Australia in 1997 and he obviously had a big part to play in England's future plans.