Benjamin Caine Hollioake was born on 11 November 1977 in Melbourne Australia. However, the death of Ben Hollioake in Australia at the tragically young age of 24 happened at a time when his cricket career looked ready to ignite again.
The Surrey all-rounder was recalled to England one day side delighted to have been handed the chance he had long craved to compete for a place in the world cup 2003 shakedown.
He has signed another year’s contract with Surrey after assurances that he would be given responsibility with bat and ball to repay the club. And his elder brother Adam as captain for the faith they had shown in him during some lean seasons.
In the 2001 season, he scored his maiden Championship hundred, which he, and his supporters and critics all knew had been long overdue since his euphoric England debut back in 1997 at the age of 19. There was a gap of six years between the Hollioake brothers but they were very close, with Adam relishing his role as Ben’s cricket mentor and confidence. For Adam Hollioake, the loss will be a shattering blow.
Ben had enormous potential unfulfilled, but he was just beginning to break through. He had an attractive personality. He was a complex character, but it was difficult not to warm to him. The contradiction in Hollioake’s career became all too apparent after that May afternoon five seasons ago when his languid, audacious stroke play roused the crowd at Lord’s 63 on debut completing the whitewash of Australia in the three-match limited over series.
The brothers made their Test debut at Nottingham that summer with less success. In retrospect, a heavy defeat was Ben’s first brush with cold reality. Hollioake more than matched his brother’s bold entry into international cricket. He seemed set for a fruitful career in the public eye. But when he excelled in England A tour of Sri Lanka the following winter.
Handsome, gifted, and apparently nerveless, his brash approach hinted at his Australian origins. If the first year seemed too good to be true, the truth of that slowly became apparent. Hollioake enjoyed the good life of a bachelor in the public eye. His returns of runs and wickets for Surrey failed to match his promise. Self-doubt crept in worsened by the failure of England’s selectors to back their initial hunch from 1997.
He was given one more Test against Sri Lanka in 1998. But the sparkle was missing for that game and probably he was never seriously considered again. At that time of his death, his best credential was for one day of cricket only. Even for Surrey, he had spent three seasons trying to prove to him that he was a worthy county professional.
Perhaps on the circuit, they were players who reckoned he was flashy and overrated. And perhaps he was wondering if they were correct that was until 2001. Duncan Fletcher, the England coach at that time admired his all-around potential as seem, bowler, batsman, and top-rate fielder, selecting him for the tour of Zimbabwe.
Ben Hollioake’s death was the second car crash tragedy at Surrey as five years ago Graham Kersey, who was Alec Stewart’s wicketkeeping understudy, was similarly killed also in Australia. At the age of 19, Ben became the youngest player to represent England since Brian Close in 1949. Another record went he played alongside Adam and they became the first brothers to play an international for England since Worcestershire’s Peter and Dick Richardson in 1957.
David Lloyd, the England coach when Hollioake made his international debut in 1997 said. You would be hard-pressed to find a more popular lad anywhere in cricket. This is absolutely devastating news for everyone who knew him. Many of England’s cricket players are playing against New Zealand at the moment in 2002. They would have grown up with him in junior cricket or played with him at Surrey.
He gave you the impression of being a laid-back lad but there was no one who worked harder at their game than Ben. I remember his debut at Lord’s when he played so well and his parents were there to watch it and the pride in their faces while he played that innings it’s really so sad, that he is no more with us.
Mark Nicholas said since they’re had to be a tragically early epitaph to the life of Ben Hollioake, none from a cricketing sense. That could have been more powerful or appropriate than the surreal atmosphere which descended upon the Basin Reserve in Wellington on the morning of March 23, 2002. The news broke on television and radio at much the same time about 45 minutes after the start of the play. And filtered quickly around the pretty, sunlit ground. Because there are so many England supporters in Wellington the shock was amplified.
Then Amplified by the silence straight away. As thousands of people shuffled uncomfortably and then began to reflect on a cricketer who most would not have known. But who through his easy smile and evident talents had created an impression.? Not many do that so young create an impression before they fulfill themselves.
This is in a way is the Ben Hollioake story. It is the story of a teenage boy, Australian Bred, whose arrival on the cricket world stage five years ago was covered in English glory. A boy who brushed Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath around Lord’s in One-day International did the same to the Kent in a cup final, could bowl with fire and field with feline grace.
He looked great, this cosmopolitan wunderkind, loved his new life and won friends for, thankfully it was the same Ben who emerged from the other side of the fanfare a charming thoughtful, and honorable character who gave of himself to others. The sometimes swagger and the laid-back style were a confusion he was a lad, said by David Lloyd his first England Coach. You would be proud to have it as you’re own.
And of course, Ben was cool and because of it, Ben was the Box office. The snag was that his cricket did not get any better. In fact, he was out of the England side almost as soon as he was in it. Suddenly county cricket became a struggle of vindication. So much so that even his place in the Surrey side was threatened. People said he should move away from London’s bright lights. You know, the cozy arm of his big brother and the cocky Surrey dressing room. But those people misunderstood Surrey and underestimated the family that the club has become.
The Oval is not the grudging, old pro-driven world it once was. The Oval is no longer haunted by the past but instead pursuing the future with vigor and flair. And Hollioake minor elder brother Adam is the Surrey captain and hopefully will continue to be so enjoyed all that, along with the trappings of big city life admittedly.
After flirting with the idea of a change he concluded that the grass would not be greener elsewhere which is why, recently, he signed a new contract with his adopted county. He was back in the England fold, took a key component in the group of 15 or so that the selectors identified last summer and were to stick with until the world cup 2003.
At the age of just 24, the next model of Ben Hollioake was to emerge, less glossy perhaps but less flighty, too was to emerge, but will not now. There was a minute of silence in his memory, and the whole ground stood.
The New Zealand players, who had sent flowers and a signed, care to the England dressing room, bowed their heads. England players screwed up their faces and then as they walked out to play. Mark Butcher and Graham Thorpe chose sunglasses to hide their tears. They, of course, are part of that successful and united Surrey dressing room.
For the next hour and a half England bowled with credit and patience but without luck. The bat was beaten, appeal after appeal was refused, a catch was dropped. But the team held their nerve consciously. No doubt of the wider and more relevant thing that had hit them so hard the day before.
In his press conference, Nasser Hussain said that when talking to his player he would ask them to remember they were professionals and to try to play like it. Well, they did, on all counts. The character of the England cricket team was severely examined that weekend and it paused impressively. The pain, though will not fade easily, which is a measure of the effect that the colorful and generous Ben Hollioake who was died in Perth just after midnight on March 23, 2002, had on their lives.