Most Brits will know the name Ben Hollioake, but he wasn’t famed for his cricket. Sadly it was death which really brought his name to the forefront of people’s minds, when he died aged just 24 in his birthplace Australia in 2002. There’s a marvellous obituary of him at Cricinfo, which I think highlights all you need to know about him, and in particular why his innings of 63 on debut against the Australians was so special to everyone who watched.
This bloke, who none of us knew of at all, strolled to the wicket and took apart their attack. 1997 was in the dark, gloomy days of English cricket – and suddenly we had a shining light to cheer. There was a freedom, simplicity and genuine class in his strokeplay; skipping down the wicket to McGrath, sweeping Warne for 6 and cheekily edging Kasper through vacant slip positions. All this promise cut short when he was 24 – it was a really bloody awful thing to have happened.
His older brother Adam (excellent, tough cricketer himself and England ODI captain) was naturally completely devastated, and setup the Ben Hollioake fund which is in association with CHASE Hospice Care. He does all kinds of charity events and marathon’s to support the fund.
So, I’ve come by this video of that very innings – and it’s really worth watching. It’s about 30MB, so not too bad, and I hope you enjoy it. Download here (make sure you right click and choose “Save as” or “Save to disk” – and not stream it…)