Cricket: Holloway breaks out

Warwickshire 336 & 0-0 Somerset 304-6 dec
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The Independent Online
Warwickshire were frustrated by their former batsman Piran Holloway's first century of the summer, but most of the talk at Edgbaston yesterday was of the future of the county's director of coaching, Phil Neale.

Although Warwickshire have moved to keep Neale at Edgbaston by offering him a new two-year contract, the former Worcestershire captain is not certain to sign it. Yesterday Neale confirmed that he has applied for the job of technical director of the England and Wales Cricket Board, a post that will be vacated by Mickey Stewart at the end of this season.

Neale, who has coached the England A and England Under-19 sides, is well thought of at Lord's but until Warwickshire produced a new contract on Friday he did not appear to be held in such high regard at Edgbaston. He was the only member of Warwickshire's cricket staff not to be offered a contract extension after last year's talks, a decision which unsettled Neale and probably influenced his decision to apply for Stewart's job.

Neale has ambitions to coach at the highest possible level and if his application for the ECB job is successful he will go with Warwickshire's blessing.

"We would not stand in the way of anyone who wants to improve their career," said Warwickshire's chief executive Dennis Amiss. "We did not stand in Bob Woolmer's way when he was offered the South African coaching job and if Phil was offered this post he would go with our best wishes."

Warwickshire's contract offer is an acknowledgement that Neale has held things together during a difficult season in which they have often been without their captain, Tim Munton, and vice-captain Nick Knight.

They are top of the Axa Life League and have reached the NatWest Trophy quarter-finals, but their hopes of winning a third Championship in four years receded yesterday as Holloway dug in. The 26-year-old Cornishman spent six unfulfilled seasons as Warwickshire's reserve wicketkeeper, but he has carved out a new career as an obdurate opening batsman since he joined Somerset in 1994.

Holloway's 106 was the fifth first-class century of his career, and his fourth for Somerset, and 82 of his runs came in boundaries, the majority either pulled or swept through mid-wicket. He finally fell to a blinding catch by Neil Smith at square leg as he pulled Dougie Brown.

Marcus Trescothick, who made 322 against Warwickshire in a memorable second-team game nine days ago, reached his first Championship half-century of the summer before he was stumped off the persevering Ashley Giles. Then Rob Turner (37 not out) and Graham Rose (46 not out) added 67 untroubled runs before Somerset declared 32 runs in arrears on 304 for 6.

It will require delicate negotiations between the captains to manufacture a positive result from a rain-ruined contest today.

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