(Photo: Getty Images)
By Henry Shimpton
Hampshire’s first reality TV star was one of the few players to enjoy the pink ball at the Ageas Bowl this week.
Ian Holland had only taken two first-class wickets in his career before sparking a Somerset collapse with four in 20 deliveries.
After the loss of more than three sessions to rain, the Australian seamer dismissed first-class debutant Ed Byrom and James Hildreth in his first two overs before Somerset captain Tom Abell and Steven Davies were caught behind in the space of three balls.
Then the 26 year-old showed off the all-round skills that won him Australian TV show Cricket Superstar in 2012 when he ran out Lewis Gregory with a direct hit from backward point.
In the space of half an hour he had tripled his first-class wicket aggregate, sparking Somerset’s collapse from 102-1 to 135-8 before the rain returned on the penultimate day.
The pink ball was 32 overs old when he came on but immediately found conditions to his liking under floodlit, overcast skies.
“The pink ball has been good to me in the last few hours,” he smiled. “It seems to do bits in periods and then flatten out. You’re never out of the game.
“I thought all day that if there was anything there it would be today going into dusk and could nip around a little bit for me, and it did.”
Playing for Hampshire has been Holland’s biggest break since his reality TV success. “It was one of those unique experiences,” he said. “I probably went in with no expectations but came out with a good opportunity – a rookie contract with Victoria.
“Allan Border was a judge so that was good enough for me.”
Holland’s teammates had not been as happy with the pink ball.
“If you are going to keep on using them you are going to get some pretty boring cricket,” said Liam Dawson, who made his first half-century of the season after replacing Michael Carberry as Jimmy Adams’ opening partner. “It just goes very soft, very quickly.”
Hampshire coach Craig White likened the pink ball to an indoor ball, while Somerset director of cricket Matthew Maynard said: “It’s more difficult to pick up than we thought while training.
“Shots down the ground are easy to pick from behind the arm, but shots square of the wicket we are wondering where the ball has gone.
“I’m not sure if it is a great concept for this country, whether we are tinkering with the game for the sake of it.”
Result: Hampshire (211-9d & 96-5) drew with Somerset (147 & 88-8)