Cricket: Hollioake finds England committed to cause

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The Independent Online
England's cricketers found a famous name from the past facing them when they launched their tour of Pakistan yesterday. Mark Baldwin reports from Lahore.

Adam Hollioake glanced approvingly at the bare statistics of England's opening day "double win" in Pakistan - but positively glowed when he spotted the red-raw grazes on several players' legs.

Hollioake is looking for total commitment from the one-day specialists picked to represent England in the Sharjah Four Nations' Tournament later this month. That commitment was evident in yesterday's defeat of a Lahore Gymkhana Club side that included Dean Headley, Ashley Giles and Matthew Fleming, as England successfully chased both the initial target of 142 and then an additional one of 282.

"The players here are, as a group, fairly young but also very hungry to do well - and that's very important," said Hollioake, the one-day captain. "I was impressed by the approach of all the players today".

Alec Stewart struck the ball beautifully in his 78 not out, Nick Knight made 79 and Alistair Brown a typically rumbustious and unconventional 67 from only 57 balls.

The Gymkhana Club, who slumped to 33 for 6 against effective new ball bowling by Dougie Brown and Peter Martin when early morning moisture made batting awkward, managed to reach 141 for 8 from their 40-over allocation largely thanks to some heroics by the 51-year-old former Test luminary Majid Khan.

Majid, now the Pakistan Cricket Board's chief executive, but also still a regular club cricketer, came in at No 8 and ended up unbeaten on 50. He struck Graeme Hick's off-spin for six late on, and his appearance was a delightful surprise for England's tourists.

Robert Croft, for example, had heard many tales about Majid's elegant contribution to Glamorgan's 1969 Championship-winning team.

Off-spinner Croft, born a year later, and now of course a Championship winner himself after Glamorgan's success last summer, found himself bowling at a man still revered in Wales and he, like all England's players, enjoyed seeing the Old Master give more than one glimpse of his rare ability.

Hollioake said: "I want this team to be flexible in its approach. For example our batting order may change around quite a lot depending on match circumstances or conditions. Someone could be down to bat at No 3 but end up going in at eight"

Tomorrow and Sunday bring 50-over matches against Pakistan A in final preparation for Sharjah, and the last couple of hours of each game will be played out under the lights of Lahore's Gaddafi Stadium.

England came to Lahore specifically to get that extra experience of floodlit cricket - again with Sharjah conditions in mind - and Hollioake said that all 14 players would feature in the two matches.

Pakistan A are to be led by Test paceman Aqib Javed and will include a number of other established internationals.

ONE-DAY MATCH (Lahore): Lahore Gymkhana Club XI 141 for 8 (40 overs, Majid Khan 50no); England 283 for 4 (N V Knight 79, A D Brown 67, A J Stewart 78no). England won original match by nine wickets, reaching 145 for 1 from 19.4 overs.