TWO fresh young county cricketers will remember Ilkeston very fondly, and how many people can say that? Surrey's Adam Hollioake scored a bold 123 on his Championship debut and Gary Steer took three for 23 in his debut as a bowler in his third game for Derbyshire. Steer removed Surrey's middle-order batsmen and his impact on the game was the more profound, since Hollioake did not score quite enough to prevent Derbyshire dominating the game, which they won emphatically by six wickets.
But when Hollioake was in, spectators had eyes only for him. He drove, cut, and tickled to fine leg, scoring 17 fours and three sixes off 178 balls. He says that the trouble with cricket is that it is too boring for spectators (he proposes a 12 when the ball is hit out of the ground). Yesterday in Ilkeston was like the beginning of a reform movement.
Steer and Hollioake make an interesting pair. Steer is from Birmingham, he is small (5ft 7in), lithe and 23, his parents are West Indian, though his mother is an Indian West Indian. Hollioake is 22 and was born in Melbourne and educated in Sydney, though his mother is Fijian. He is built for speed on the rugby field as well as entertainment on the cricket pitch, and he qualified to play for England at both games even before he played cricket for Surrey. Presumably this is because he was registered as a student at the Surrey Tutorial College in Guildford.
Both are all-rounders and maybe their careers will flourish. Maybe not, but few who were at Ilkeston yesterday will quickly forget them.
That they were at Ilkeston at all is because Labour took control of the council a couple of years ago and offered Derbyshire a subsidy they could not refuse. The Tories are bitterly critical, and, unlike at most festival grounds, the local Conservative assocation did not have a tent. They should rue the day, because Derbyshire's victory was accomplished and should move them to a place higher than 15th in the Championship table. Until Hollioake happened, they looked like winning by an innings, and no one could say that Surrey didn't deserve to lose. They batted as though as though their minds were elsewhere.
In the end they were out for 332 and Derbyshire were left 99 runs to win. They batted and Surrey bowled as if neither side particularly wanted to experience Ilkeston on a Monday.