James Lawton: Cricket failed Hollioake

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The Independent Online

Beyond the tragedy of Ben Hollioake there is an uncomfortable truth which English cricket is duty bound to confront. It is that if a young life has been cruelly snuffed out, the indications were that a potentially brilliant career was already in decline.

The reason for this may have had something to do with the nature of a gifted, attractive but perhaps not hugely self-motivated young man. Unquestionably, though, it also highlighted a failure of English cricket to identify diamonds and then vigorously bring them to their proper lustre. The Australians do this as a matter of course.

Shane Warne long ago proved his genius, but what chance would he have had in the culture of the English game? How well would his priorities have been adjusted. Would he have been nourished or slapped down? The depressing truth is that we have to believe that Ben Hollioake's career had hit its peak before he was 20. His swift elevation made demands on him for which he might not have been equal. But how strongly was he supported?

The mourning of a young man gone with so much still before him is always deep. But that for Ben Hollioake perhaps carries a special edge. The sense of waste is oppressive at every level.

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