While Michael Atherton spent yesterday lunching with the Queen at Buckingham Palace, Adam Hollioake, England's one-day captain for the quadrangular tournament in Sharjah, was giving his first press conference as England captain. While it is unlikely that Atherton spent much time reassuring the Queen that her team was in good hands, Hollioake was insisting that his appointment should not label him solely as a one-day player.
"I've got more to offer than that," said the Surrey captain, as he and David Lloyd finished off morning net practice by fielding questions from the media. After putting the assembled throng straight on this point, he set out his personal manifesto, declaring: "I don't have priorities. I just want to win every game of cricket I play in."
Unlike Atherton, the man he is to replace for Sharjah, Hollioake is an open soul, and what you see is exactly what you get. "He will be different to Michael," David Lloyd said, with a crooked smirk on his face. "As a young captain he's got a lot of responsibility, especially as he bats and bowls as well. But while Athers opens the innings and sets the tone of the game, Adam will be more unpredictable and work on his instincts."
Lloyd, who is off to Rawalpindi today to watch the second Test between Pakistan and the West Indies, feels the tournament in Sharjah has come at the right time. But although there has been talk of Sharjah being an early step on the road to the 1999 World Cup, there is consternation that, with almost two years of solid cricket coming up, England could be a spent force.
"We're conscious of that and it will be a demanding challenge for the lads," Lloyd reckons. "We have an obvious goal with the World Cup, but Test series are an ongoing challenge. The main problem is how to retain our best players in peak condition when the domestic season starts. So far the counties have played ball but we'll keep looking at options to keep players fresh."
At present everyone is well rested and, according to Hollioake, who spent a few weeks in Australia seeing his parents, preparation has been of the highest order. However, Hollioake is under no illusions but, while he says no-one has a right to have their name set down in concrete, he is relishing the challenge facing him and his squad over the next three weeks.
"I can't wait. I've told the guys what I expect from them and what they can expect from me. I have a policy of being totally honest and open and I expect the same from them. In any case we've got such an exciting squad it is not a question of thinking who do we play, but who do we leave out? For a captain, that's a nice problem to have."