Adam Hollioake captained England in the first edition of the ICC Champions Trophy © Getty Images
In the first edition of the ICC Champions Trophy in 1998, Adam Hollioake, the England captain smashed a brilliant 83 off 91 balls in the quarter-final against South Africa. Leading a weakened side, he rescued them from a hapless position to take them to 281 — a good score in those days. England lost that game, but the magnificent effort won the England captain a lifetime supply of Mars bars. Nishad Pai Vaidya talks to Adam Hollioake about the game and its intriguing aftermath.
The ICC Champions Trophy started as the Wills International Cup in Dhaka in 1998. England and South Africa faced off in the first quarter-final of the event — which was a largely unknown quantity. England sent in a weaker side under the leadership of Adam Hollioake as their major players headed Down Under for the Ashes. South Africa too had their fair share of absentees as Lance Klusener, Allan Donald, Herschelle Gibbs and Shaun Pollock didn’t grace the stage.
Nevertheless, South Africa were the stronger side, but England were upbeat. They were led from the front by their captain Hollioake who scored a magnificent 83 not out to lift his team from 95 for five to take them to a formidable score of 281. England couldn’t defend that score and the determined effort by Hollioake cost him more than the game. The Dhaka heat had sapped Hollioake so much so that he started hallucinating. To counter that, he came up with an interesting remedy and ate everything in sight. He recalls the innings and the aftermath in this chat.
CricketCountry (CC): What was England’s build-up like for the Wills International Cup in Dhaka as the major players had left for the Ashes tour Down Under? Was this tournament seen as an inconsequential event?
Adam Hollioake (AH): Yes, it was a strange feeling, as you rightly pointed out. All the focus was on The Ashes, and at that stage this event hadn’t found its feet. Another important fact is that there weren’t any specialist teams as they were just coming in. However, we were determined to win. The players were very keen to make a name for themselves and represent their country with pride. Now, I think this competition has grown into a well-regarded tournament.
CC: The first game was against South Africa — who also had a relatively weakened side. Did you fancy your chances? What was the crowd support like?
AH: Yes, South Africa were up against us, but I don’t remember them being that weakened. They were the best side in the world then and we knew we had our work cut out to compete. They still had all their big guns, like Hansie Cronje, Jonty Rhodes and Jacques Kallis to name a few. Thus, they were always going to be a tough proposition. The crowd was arguably the loudest I ever played in front of. There were fire crackers going off and the crowd was incredibly raucous.
CC: England batted first and you walked in with the team in dire straits at 95 for five in the 19th over. What was going through your mind and how did you plan on approaching the innings?
AH: Well, obviously we needed to rebuild. If I had got out then, the game would definitely have been over as I was the last recognised batsman left along with Neil Fairbrother. I remember starting very conservatively with him and was trying to pick up singles. As the innings progressed, we took a few more risks and were really happy with that partnership. I think it remained a record for a few years.
CC: From that point onwards you batted through the innings. Your unbeaten knock of 83 propelled England to 281 — which was a big score considering those days. It did come at a cost though. Can you tell the toll your body had taken during that effort?
AH: It was a very hot day and the temperature was well over 40 degrees. In fact, they put a thermometer on the wicket and it registered over 60 degrees. I had made the mistake of over hydrating and pumped litres of water into my body in an attempt to avoid dehydration. In reality, all I did was that I diluted the salts in my body. Once I started sweating, I could feel my body shedding all the salts. It was a particularly tough innings, although I was only out there for a couple of hours. There was a lot of running as we didn’t hit many boundaries while re-building. Adding to the woes was my low salt count — a perfect recipe for disaster. I have never felt so weak and thought I was going to pass out. It was during South Africa’s run-chase that I started hallucinating. It was then that I realised all was not well.
CC: Did you feel your score was beyond South Africa’s reach? You also couldn’t take the field for too long during the innings and missed out on marshaling the troops in the middle.
AH: I felt the score was going to be too much for South Africa. As you pointed out that, was a very big score in One-Day cricket in those days. Yes, I was on and off the pitch that day and was trying to get myself feel a bit better. If I hadn’t been one of the chosen bowlers I am certain I wouldn’t have gone back on the field. We had Graeme Hick as my vice-captain — who was a more than suitable stand in leader.
CC: England lost that game by six wickets, but how important was that innings for you personally? How would you rate that effort?
AH: Well, in hindsight the innings wasn’t important at all because it didn’t get us the victory. I think it was arguably my best innings in One-Day Internationals (ODIs). It is just a shame that it wasn’t good enough to win us the game. I guess you always look back and think you could have done more. But, considering the circumstances in this instance, I don’t feel I could have done much more.
CC: Speaking about your condition after the game, Is it true that you said, ”I haven’t actually done it, but I felt like I’d smoked ten joints.” How did the authorities of the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) take it?
AH: Yes, it is true that I said that! But I said it in jest and punctuated the statement by iterating that I had never done drugs. It was a jovial throw away comment and unfortunately some very poor reporting saw it end up in the English newspapers. It was particularly disappointing as I had come from my bed to give the press conference so that they could get a story. The people in the room knew the tone it was said in, but they chose to try to advance their own reporting careers by creating a story that never existed. The headlines in United Kingdom (UK) were “Hollioake in Drug Admission.” It was absolutely laughable to those who know me. I laughed for days about it. I actually feel sorry for them that they felt the need to write nonsense to make themselves seem better. It was a valuable lesson and I never spoke openly to the press again.
CC: Wisden reported that you had five Mars bars, a few naans and a bowl of noodles to recuperate. The physio had to stop you. Can you talk us through those events?
AH: Ye, during the mid-innings break, our physio Dean Conway alerted me that my sugar and salt levels were low and that I needed to get some back into my system as soon as possible. I was eating everything that was in the room and once I started I couldn’t stop. I was actually sitting in the shower on a plastic chair eating noodles, Mars bars or anything. On my return to the UK, I got a life time supply of Mars bars, because it was mentioned in the newspapers. I guess something good came out of it (laughs). The guys were bringing me food and I think after a while they were just amused at how much I could eat. The physio had to hide food from me.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with cricketcountry.com and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)