Captain fulfils his rich promise

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Adam Hollioake was as good as his word here last night. England's new one-day captain had promised to lead from the front and he did exactly that to clinch a play-off place in the Cathay Pacific World Cup Sixes.

Hollioake hammered an unbeaten 23 as England crushed Hong Kong in their opening round-robin qualifier before bludgeoning four straight sixes off Aamir Sohail on his way to a seven-ball innings of 31 to set up a 36-run win over Pakistan.

Before the tournament started Hollioake made his intentions clear. Even though he was skippering England for the first time, the 24-year-old confirmed: "I intend to play positively at all times. I will set the example because that should always be the captain's job. We are here to win. Coming second is of absolutely no interest."

England, who must now overcome qualifying matches against Australia and Sri Lanka today to guarantee a place in the final, certainly looked like winners. The well-balanced side made easy work of the local team in their opening game. Matthew Fleming (32) and Graham Lloyd (22) weighed in behind their captain to take England to 88 for 3 from their five overs. Hong Kong battled bravely to reach 73 for 4 but Fleming, in the penultimate over, produced the tournament's first hat-trick to end any victory charge.

Against Pakistan, Fleming was again in the runs, scoring 31 before retiring moments after Hollioake had put the game out of Pakistan's reach. Mark Ealham smashed the final two balls of the innings into the stand to give England the second highest total of the day, an almost unchaseable 93 for 1. Not surprisingly, Pakistan fell well short, finishing on 57 for 3.

One man who will not be disappointed if England take the pounds 21,000 first prize is the chief executive of the competition's organisers, Cricket World International, Brian Catton. He was quick to praise the English Cricket Board headed by Lord MacLaurin, who have given his ICC-endorsed event their total backing.

Catton explained: "The new people at Lord's have been like a breath of fresh air. They have been the most co-operative of the game's governing bodies. They have set an example that I would like the rest of the game to follow. Six-a-side cricket may be Mickey Mouse stuff to some people, but in Hong Kong it is all we have. Better that we have one world event than none at all.

"The ECB have bent over backwards to get a top-class side over here, I just wish some other countries would do the same. A lot of them seem more concerned with financial guarantees, on top of the prize money, without ensuring that they send their top names. That's disappointing and hopefully, now that we are on the official ICC calendar, that will change."

Australia, however, could not be criticised on that front. Steve and Mark Waugh both had to pitch in as the Aussies recovered from an opening defeat against Bangladesh to beat India and secure a play-off place.

The Hong Kong Cricket Association president, Terry Smith, added: "We may well be a junior member of the cricketing world but the exposure that this competition gives us around the world is invaluable."