Hollioake stays strong
Adam Hollioake was a fighter on the cricket field and his pugnacious instinct remains.
Ten years on from the tragic death of his younger brother Ben, aged 24, ecb.co.uk caught up with the former England one-day international captain and Surrey skipper, 40, who now lives on Australia’s Gold Coast.
Following the loss of fellow all-rounder Ben, who played alongside him for county and country, Adam resumed his cricket career in June 2002 and continued representing Surrey until August 2004.
In 2002 he lifted a poignant third County Championship title in four years and during 2003 won the inaugural Twenty20 Cup. Alongside Ben, he enjoyed Benson & Hedges Cup success in 1997 and 2001. Adam also led England to Champions Trophy glory in 1997.
He returned to Australia, the country of his and Ben’s birth, as a property developer - a role he briefly interrupted in 2007 to play for Essex in the T20 Cup.
Having enjoyed several years of success in the property market, his venture fell victim of the global financial crisis and he was declared bankrupt last July.
By then, Adam had already developed a professional boxing career - his next bout is on April 13 - and he is now little more than a month from his professional cage fighting debut.
Those challenges will no doubt pale in comparison to coming to terms with witnessing the car crash that killed Ben in Perth late on March 23 2002.
“It seems like yesterday, which is both good and bad,” he said. “I still remember him so vividly, but unfortunately also remember the pain that came when we lost him.
“It’s been amazing the way the cricket community has gotten behind my family to support us. It has made the last 10 years a whole lot easier. Nonetheless I can't believe it has been a decade.”
Adam and Ben were born in Melbourne during 1971 and 1977 respectively. The Hollioake family moved to England in the 1980s and the majority of the brothers’ education came at Millfield School in Somerset.
Both attracted the attention of Surrey, whom Adam joined before Ben returned Down Under with the rest of his family. A year or so later, Surrey persuaded Ben, who needed to live in the UK for an unbroken 12 months to be eligible to play for them, to join their coaching staff. He subsequently became a Surrey player and made his senior county debut in 1996.
“My abiding memories of him are from when we were kids growing up,” Adam revealed. “We got in so much trouble; always into something. Nothing serious, just mischievous boys. I can count how many windows we smashed with tennis balls, rugby balls etc.
“I also remember his laid-back manner, when I used to go round to his house and he would be chilled out on the sofa, or when he slinked into my house and threw himself down on my sofa. In the cricket environment he was so frustrating; you always thought he could do so much more than he did. He always gave the impression of playing so far within his ability.”
Not only were Surrey quick to recognise Ben’s talent, but England were too. Aged 19, he made his senior international bow during the third ODI with Australia in May 1997. His classy 63 from 48 balls aided a 3-0 whitewash.
Later that summer, with England 2-1 down in the Ashes heading into the penultimate game of six at Trent Bridge, the Hollioakes became the fifth set of brothers to play Test cricket for England and the third to make simultaneous debuts.
“It was great to play alongside him for England,” Adam recalled. “It’s good enough to play with good mates in your team, but when you are fortunate enough to have a member of your family out there it is special.
“I guess at the time I may not have appreciated it for what it was, but now I really look at it as one of my proudest moments. The only cricket picture I have is when Michael Atherton presented us both our Test caps.”
Despite taking 5-10 in a List A game during his debut season and making match-award-winning scores of 98 and 73 in his two B&H Cup finals, Ben’s contributions with bat and ball were inconsistent. How good he could have been will never be known.
“I guess that is the million dollar question and part of the reason the question gets asked,” reflected Adam. “There is nothing he couldn't do on a sports field. He would only have been held back by his own actions, meaning if he put his mind to it he could have achieved anything.
“But part of his beauty was there was no guarantee he would have ever done that. He was his own man and did what he wanted to do. I guess the fact he did what he did on his [England] debut gave people an indication of his ability, but then we also saw the frustrating way he could play on other days.
“I love match-winners in my team and he was the ultimate in this regard as he could always pull out something special with bat, ball or in the field.”
Soon after Ben’s death, Adam announced the child his wife, Sherryn, was carrying would be called Bennaya, also after Ben's girlfriend Janaya Scholten who survived the crash despite suffering serious head and chest injuries. Bennaya now has two brothers: Addison and Takoda.
Adam also set up the CHASE Ben Hollioake Fund in association with CHASE hospice care for children, embarking on a sponsored walk, cycle and sail from Scotland to Morocco in the autumn of 2003.
“The Ben Hollioake Fund still runs and does great work for the CHASE charity,” Adam added. “It has become difficult for me to play as big a role as I used to play in it as I now reside in Australia. However, they do great work for kids who are life-limited.”