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A Week In Cricket
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Philosophical niceties give an extra edge to the will to win

MAN IN THE MIDDLE

Adam Hollioake (Surrey)

The words "hard" and "uncompromising" lend themselves easily to a description of the Surrey vice-captain, Adam Hollioake. His colleagues reckon that pound for pound the 5ft 11in "Smokey", as he is known, is the strongest man in the Surrey squad, and that strength extends to his mental approach to the game. He has a steely will to succeed - so the phrase "friendly rivalry" is alien to his nature.

"It bugs me that people are so friendly," explains Hollioake, who was born in Melbourne more than 24 years ago, but after an intercession by the Prime Minister John Major a few years ago, was deemed to be English by way of residency. "This is a professional sport, you are in competition with someone and I can't for the life of me fathom out why you would be nice to someone on the other side and make them comfortable.

"Afterwards, off the pitch, I really like to have a drink with them, although actually there are some sides who don't want to drink with me afterwards because they think I have played it too hard on the pitch. They think I have stepped over the limit."

Hollioake naturally disagrees. "It's nothing but gamesmanship, really," he says. "If you can intimidate someone then you have to do it. I'm not a big one for sledging or anything like that, but getting into someone's mind is all part of the game. At first-class level, if you can't handle it, then I don't think you should be playing."

If the attitude sounds unyielding, it is. And the word hard figures prominently in Hollioake's burgeoning career. It is not just an abundance of innate ability and an unfair share of talent that has Hollioake, who does not believe in the existence of luck, averaging more than 60 in the championship this season. "It's hard graft that gets you there," he asserts.

There is no room in his outlook for relaxing. His is a remorseless, unforgiving approach. It is probably no surprise to learn that one of Hollioake's three A levels is philosophy. "I believe if you want to win things you don't have bad sessions. It's taken me a while to learn that. You have to keep grinding sides into the floor."

Get ready with the dustpan and brush.

Golden arm (Bowling performance of the week)

Dean Headley (Kent)

Having been a success on the England A tour to Pakistan last winter, there was anxiety and dismay when he was found to be suffering from a hip injury which robbed the county of his services until early last month. He has since made up for lost time and his career-best 8 for 98, including a hat-trick against Derbyshire, is a realisation of his potential.

Hit man (Batting performance of the week)

David Sales (Northants)

An inauspicious start saw him suffer a third-ball duck in the first innings against Worcestershire. He made up for it second time round by becoming the youngest batsman, at 18 years 237 days, to score a first- class double century in England when he hit an unbeaten 210. He also became the first Englishman to score a double hundred on his championship debut.

Butter fingers

Devon Malcolm (Derbyshire)

He certainly did his best to atone for it with a magnificent return of 11 for 205 but he must be shuddering still at his first day bloomer against Kent. Nigel Llong, looking out of touch, had reached 26 when he drove the ball tamely to mid-on. There the unfortunate England fast bowler spilled the chance and Llong added a further 90 runs to his score.

Tales of the unexpected

Nick Knight (England)

Falling one run short of a Test half-century after thinking you have reached the mark is galling. Knight, on 48, felt he had got bat on ball and took two runs only to discover the umpire had signalled leg byes. Knight was out one run later. During tea the umpirechanged his mind. Knight reached his 50 in the dressing room.

In search of blanket approval on the grassy knolls of Kent

AROUND THE GROUNDS

No 12: CANTERBURY

A blanket is an essential piece of equipment on a hot summer's day at Canterbury. No self-respecting visitor, with a car parked on the grassy banks around the historic St Lawrence Ground, would be without one. The blanket is to blot out the dazzling glare, which has irritated many a batsman and fielder and causes frequent interruptions to play and regular appeals on the public address system.

There are also plenty of appeals on the sloping ground itself, which drops some nine feet away to the north east, the side made famous by the lime tree which stands defiantly within the boundary. Any batsman hitting it is rewarded with a four. K L "Kenneth" Hutchings was caught after skying a ball into the tree - the fielder waiting patiently underneath while the ball bounced from branch to branch.

Famous Kent cricketers are remembered in the motley - but not unattractive - collection of buildings which have sprung up over the years to replace the original thatched wooden shed: Les Ames, who scored his hundredth hundred, aged 45, in the match against Middlesex in 1950, Frank Woolley and Sir Colin Cowdrey.

England even played a Test trial here in 1946 because it was regarded as such a sporting wicket. The corporate entertainment and burger tents which spring up these days are a far cry from those which used to ring the boundary. Canterbury Week saw an influx of the wealthy and well-to- do in their private tents. The last one belonged to Mrs Wheeler of Otterden and was pitched at the St Lawrence Ground until well after the Second World War.

Modern day facilities are excellent, car parking is generally ample, but on big match days get there early. The fans of Kent and the Kentish fans know their cricket and arrive early to enjoy a bacon roll and get a good seat.

You are advised to follow suit - and don't forget the blanket.

It's in the rules...

Law 30 (1b): Out bowled. "The striker shall be out bowled if he breaks his wicket by hitting or kicking the ball on to it... as a result of attempting to guard his wicket."

So perished Leicestershire's opener, Vince Wells. He scored something of an own goal at the start of the match against Sussex. In attempting to prevent a delivery from Jason Lewry from trickling on to his stumps, the batsman swung a boot at it. Unfortunately the ball thudded into the stumps.

Team of the week

1 Paul Weekes Middlesex

2 Matt Windows ...............Gloucestershire

3 Stuart Law Essex

4 *Matthew Maynard Glamorgan

5 David Sales Northamptonshire

6 Tom Moody Worcestershire

7 Robbie Turner Somerset

8 Peter Such Essex

9 Dean Headley Kent

10 Jason Lewry Sussex

11 Devon Malcolm Derbyshire

Quote of the week

'It appears this witness's evidence is in danger of getting completely out of hand. I think that he should now leave the witness stand.' Mr Justice French to Geoffrey Boycott during the Ian Botham and Imran Khan cricket libel case.

Rain check

Hours lost to rain during the County Championship

1 Somerset 54.45

2 Lancashire 50.80

3 Gloucestershire 40.20

4 Sussex 38.30

5 Northamptonshire 37.70

6 Durham 36.20

7 Middlesex 33.60

8 Warwickshire 33.40

9 Derbyshire 31.76

10 Surrey 30.73

11 Glamorgan 30.50

12 Worcestershire 30.30

13 Hampshire 29.43

14 Essex 28.30

15 Kent 25.66

16 Nottinghamshire 24.80

17 Leicestershire 22.90

18 Yorkshire 17.65

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