Ex-PM Major, teammates pay tributes to late Hollioake

Published: Monday, July 15, 2002, 23:53 [IST]
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London: Former British Prime Minister John Major was among those paying tribute on Monday to the life of England all-rounder Ben Hollioake, who died in a car crash in Australia earlier this year.

Cricket lover Major, a former president of Hollioake's county club, Surrey, said the 24-year-old was an "unforgettable young man" who had left a "legacy of love" both on and off the pitch. Hollioake died in Perth, Western Australia, in March. Also speaking at London's Southwark Cathedral was Hollioake's older brother Adam, the Surrey captain, who spoke of their "amazing brotherhood". Both Hollioake brothers made their Test debuts on the same day, August 5, 1997 at Trent Bridge, Nottingham in the fifth match of the Ashes series against Australia. Tributes were also paid by Hollioake's Surrey and England teammates Alec Stewart and Mark Butcher. Veteran wicket-keeper Stewart gave a reading while opening batsman Butcher, a keen amateur musician, sang a song, 'You're Never Gone', that he had written in memory of Australia-born Hollioake. Major told the congregation, including Hollioake's parents John and Daria and sister Eboni, that Ben had, "Talent, languid grace and the physique of an athlete, humour, bearing, intellect and a gift for cricket and love for life. "The fates had given him all that and all too soon they snatched him away from us." Adam Hollioake said he believed his brother was "one hundred per cent happy" at the time of his death. But he continued, "Life has changed for my family: Before there were good days, bad days, hard-working days and relaxing days. "Now all these times have gone and been replaced with before and after Ben. That's how my life will be from now on," said Hollioake whose wife Sherryn recently gave birth to a daughter, Bennaya, named after his brother and Ben's girlfriend Janaya. He added, "Benny-boy... I'll never forget you. Not a day goes by when I don't think about you and all the fun times we had. "Of all the people I have ever met, if I could be anyone I'd be you. I need you to know that I will always love you." Hollioake played two Tests and 20 One-dayers for England. But his career at the highest level failed to do justice to the natural talent he displayed when making 63 as a 19-year-old on his Limited Overs international debut against Australia at Lord's five years ago. There has been much discussion about how Surrey should mark the cricketer's passing away and on Monday the Ben Hollioake Memorial Scholarship was announced. Under the scheme, the first Surrey contract of a promising young England-qualified professional will be paid by London's 'Evening Standard' newspaper. The scholarship will be awarded annually and Surrey chief executive Paul Sheldon, said, "We think it is a fantastic idea... It just seems such an appropriate step forward."

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