Born: 11 November, 1977, in Melbourne, Australia
Died: 23 March, 2002, in car crash in South Perth, Australia, aged 24
BEN Hollioake was being hailed as "the new Botham" in 1997, after he found himself, much to his and the cricketing world’s surprise, in England’s Texaco Trophy one-day squad against Australia. He hit 63 from 48 balls at the Oval as the Aussies crashed to defeat in the series. At 19, he was the youngest player to represent England since Brian Close in 1949.
Significantly, Ian Botham was one of the first to lament his death. "It is a loss of a talent than can never be replaced," he said.
And yet it is true to say that since that glory day at the Oval Hollioake had experienced mixed fortunes in his international career. As an all-rounder, he came to be regarded as a one-day specialist and played only two full Tests for England - against Australia in 1997 and Sri Lanka in 1998. Even at one-day level, he was not a permanent fixture in the England team, but few would dispute that this seemingly laid-back but hard-working cricketer had the talent to become a major force in cricket and his life has been cut short at a time when he could confidently have expected many years of international cricket ahead - time and opportunity enough, perhaps, to make "the new Botham" tag stick for good.
Born in Melbourne, he moved with his elder brother, Adam, and the family to England in 1984. In 1991, he was selected to play for the England under-14s. He attended Millfield School and toured Zimbabwe with the school team. He also toured the Caribbean with the West of England squad in 1992.
In 1993, he returned with his parents to Australia, leaving Adam to carry on his flourishing career with Surrey, but a year later Ben was back in England to join his brother at the London club. In 1996, at 18, he became the youngest player to take five wickets in a Sunday League match - five for ten runs in eight overs against Leicestershire.
He made his first-class debut for Surrey against Yorkshire in 1996, taking four for 74, and his performances brought him to the attention of the England selectors, who brought him into the under-19 series against New Zealand. He was then picked for the 1996 under-19 tour to Pakistan and finished second in the Test batting averages with 168 runs at an average of 33.66. He was also top wicket-taker with 15.
In the following year came his Texaco Trophy triumph at the Oval for England, when another little bit of cricketing history was made - he and Adam were the first brothers to play in an international match for England since Worcestershire’s Peter and Dick Richardson in 1957.
In 1998, after a successful England A tour to Kenya and Sri Lanka, he was picked for the full Test against Sri Lanka at the Oval, but blotted his copybook by being fined 1,000 after arriving nearly an hour later for practice. He was selected for the Ashes tour in 1998-99, but did not play in a Test.
His career seemed to lose momentum in 1999-2000, but last year he was recalled to the England squad for the triangular series against Australia and Pakistan. He was such a success that he earned a call-up for this winter’s one-day tours to India and New Zealand. In the event, a knee injury limited his appearances to only three. He then travelled to Australia for a holiday.
Hollioake made his first championship century for Surrey last summer and was named Man of the Match for his 73 in Surrey’s B&H Cup final over Gloucestershire.
During his first-class career, he scored 2,794 runs at an average of 25.87 and took 126 wickets at 33.45. In 20 one-day internationals, he totalled 309 runs at 20.60, including two 50s. His 63 on debut was his highest score.
He had just signed another year’s contract with Surrey after being courted by Warwickshire and was desperate to get back into the England team before next year’s World Cup.
The England captain, Nasser Hussain, and the rest of the senior side were told of the tragedy during the lunch break of their Second Test with New Zealand in Wellington.
An emotional Hussain said: "Even away from cricket he was there for you and it’s an absolute tragedy that such a young, talented outgoing lad has gone - he had everything going for him."
The England coach, Duncan Fletcher, said: "Ben was a hugely talented young cricketer, a popular member of the side and he will be greatly missed by everyone in the England dressing room.
"He was one of a number of young players we were looking to take to the World Cup with the one-day squad next winter and it’s tragic that a young life has been lost in this way."
The chairman of the England selectors, David Graveney, added: "This is a great loss of someone who was so young and so talented."
Sadly, the question of whether he was talented enough to become "the new Botham" will now never be answered.