Cricket: Hollioakes upstaged by Brown

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The Independent Online
Essex 214 Surrey 215-4 Surrey win by 6 wickets

Even the Essex supporters will have wanted to catch a glimpse of the Hollioake brothers at the crease, provided they were tactful enough to make it brief. What they had to stomach was 26 overs of Alistair Brown, whose 71 in 71 balls made sure that it was Surrey and not Essex who go through to the semi-finals.

The scene was set for sterling deeds. Mr and Mrs Hollioake, fast becoming the most famous parents of the year, were at Chelmsford and lunched with John Major, who will surely do no worse than runner-up in the Prime Minister of the Year competition.

The ground was full and Essex, after being put into bat on a pitch which gave the seamers some movement, were guilty of careless batting.

Stuart Law, who had opened the innings and begun with four cracking fours, may have been unlucky with one from Martin Bicknell - the best of the bowlers - which lifted and flicked the edge of his bat. The others had less excuse.

Then came the Hollioakes. The first part of the story went quietly enough when Ben bowled six reasonably tidy overs at brisk medium pace which cost 28 runs. Things hotted up later when the ball was thrown to Adam. His first ball, a long hop, was whacked by Robert Rollins straight to Ian Salisbury at mid-on.

The Hollioakes both have a superb cricketing talent and it may be that another of their attributes is that they are lucky cricketers. For good measure Adam took a second wicket with the last ball of his first over when Mark Ilott was bowled trying to play him to leg. He took 2 for 6 in two overs just to make sure the Hollioake flame was still alight.

Surrey then lost Alec Stewart in the second over of their innings, caught at short midwicket off a mistimed drive. This made way for Ben Hollioake, who produced a short but sumptuous feast of four fours in 10 balls.

In the next over, with that lovely flowing arc of the bat, he drove Ashley Cowan wide of mid-on for four. Then he turned his attention to Ilott. A glorious on-drive was followed by a straight drive off a slower ball and then one on his legs was flicked meatily away to square leg for the third four of the over.

It was too good to be true - then he tried to play Cowan to leg off his pad and was lbw. It was as if Laurence Olivier had been cut off in mid- sentence.

But Brown is never anticlimactic and his dashing stroke-play was splendid, while Graham Thorpe, who was dropped three times, helped in a third-wicket stand of 110 in 133 balls and then stayed on with Mark Butcher to see Surrey almost home.