Cricket: Hollioake century perks up England A

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The Independent Online
Ben Hollioake underlined his potential with a carefully compiled and mature 103 to give England A a first-innings lead of 89 on the second day of their second unofficial Test against Sri Lanka in Matara. The Surrey all-rounder played an innings which not only rescued the tourists from a perilous position but also demonstrated the discipline and temperament required if he is to add to his one Test cap.

Hollioake battled with the Sri Lankan spinners on a turning pitch for nearly four hours to reach his maiden first-class century in his 29th innings - a strike-rate which has led some to accuse him of lacking the necessary concentration required at the top level. Yet while all England's top-line batsmen failed to master the trickery of the spin pair Niroshan Bandartilleke and Arshad Juniad, Hollioake provided the skill and patience to earn the tourists a priceless lead. "It was hard out there and it needed a lot of concentration because the ball was turning very sharply," Hollioake said. "I liked this innings in particular because we were in a difficult situation when I went in and that is probably the most satisfying thing for me - that I made a century at an important time." Resuming on 47 for 1 in reply to Sri Lanka A's 171, England lost four wickets for 11 runs in seven overs before Hollioake settled on his game-plan and guided his less-gifted but equally determined batting partners slowly and surely towards safety. He used his feet to great effect and added 47 with David Nash before the Middlesex wicketkeeper played back to Bandartilleke and was trapped leg before. Dougie Brown was bowled in the same over but Ashley Giles contributed a vital 39 to a 97-run partnership in 34 overs to enable Hollioake to drive Juniad for a straight four to take England into the lead.