Adam Hollioake, the former England One Day International and Surrey captain, has advised current professional cricketers to make use of the Professional Cricketers’ Association’s Personal and Development Programme to plan for life outside of cricket.
Hollioake led Surrey to three County Championships and captained England to the Sharjah Cup in 1997.
When he retired from playing in 2004, Hollioake had built up a property portfolio which continued to grow and which, at its height, was worth 250,000 million Australian dollars.
But the business collapsed during the global property crash of the late noughties and Hollioake was declared bankrupt in Australia in 2010.
With no other income he took up professional boxing and cage fighting to pay the bills.
In an exclusive interview with the PCA Hollioake, who is a PCA Ambassador, had admitted that he was not prepared for the demands of a business career when he finished playing.
“I had seen global financial crashes before whilst I was playing and I thought they weren’t that big a deal because as professional cricketers we are sheltered from that,” he said.
“I didn’t think I was actually warned. I had people saying this might be imminent and I guess we didn’t have things in place. The next thing I knew I was faced with bankruptcy.
“I had signed forms which I didn’t truly understand what they were, personal guarantees, and then when the crash happened and property prices fell, all of a sudden people were chasing me for my own money, and rightly so.
“Living day to day and not knowing how you are going to pay your bills coming up is something that I wasn’t used to because we get looked after as cricketers. Everything gets done for us.
“All of a sudden from having all the money I needed and the accolades of being an England captain and everyone doing everything for me, there I was 40 years old, trying to look after my kids and not knowing how I was going to be able to pay my rent or any bills that came in.
“It was scary stuff. I am not going to lie. For the first time in my life I can honestly say I was genuinely scared.
“My A Levels in philosophy and economics didn’t stand for much at the age of 40 I had no time in the workforce and I had always played sport. That’s all I had known. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I have the ability to fight and I turned to professional boxing and cage fighting to do that.”
Fighting made Hollioake how bad his situation had become but he is now working for a technology company and as a PCA Ambassador, using his experiences to help educate current players.
“Probably one of the times I realised how bad it had got was when I was walking up to the cage for the first time and I knew that they were going to open that gate and lock it,” he said.
“I knew I had to go in there. Stepping into a cage and fighting another man is nothing compared to the fear of not being able to look after your family. For me that is the scariest thing I have ever been through.
“Fortunately now I am looking to move out fighting. I’m involved in a technology company and I have had that time to get back up off my knees metaphorically speaking, to get back up and get back into life.
“It’s been one hell of a ride and it’s been pretty scary. I'd advise players to take advantage of the facilities and things which the PCA can offer you. Make sure you look after your pension. That saved my life and my sanity just about.
"I don’t want people to come down my path. I don’t want them to have to go and do what I have had to do. Hopefully I can help some people out and give them some advice to stay on top of their affairs
“Be prepared for after cricket. It doesn’t last forever. It’s great while it lasts so enjoy it. but always have one eye a little bit of the future and make use of what the PCA has to offer you.”
Hollioake, now 44, played four Tests and 35 One Day Internationals, but retired two years after his younger brother Ben was killed in a car accident in March 2002.
“Obviously I lost my brother and also I probably started to lose my love of the game a little bit. It wasn’t quite the same without him there. I wanted to be back with my family to support them after what had happened with my brother so I took the decision to retire pretty young,” he said.
“During my time playing cricket I, unknowingly I guess, started my own little property development scenario where I bought some apartments and rented them out.
“I carried on living in my own little humble apartment so I didn’t really upscale myself. But by the time I had finished from cricket I had set myself up quite nicely. I had four apartments in London, a little place back in Perth and a nice little place in Sydney as well which I had all bought and then let out.
“By the time I retired in 2004 I think I was earning more money outside cricket than I was in cricket.
“Things from there just carried on getting better and better. There was a massive boom in Western Australia and things got pretty big in the property development side of things.
“I never anticipated it would get that way. At the time when the global financial crisis hit we had a quarter of billion dollars worth of property in our portfolio.
“I couldn’t have spent that money in ten life times, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. Financially I would never have had to work a day in my life if I didn’t want to and basically I wasn’t. I was cruising around doing what I wanted.
“I guess I lost a little bit of direction and focus because everything was coming so easy. All my life I had been successful. It just seemed development and everything was going the same way. Anything I touched turned to gold.”
Jason Ratcliffe, the PCA Assistant Chief Executive, played for Surrey alongside Hollioake and praised his former county captain for helping the PCA's Personal Welfare and Development Programme.
"After a very good cricket career and nurturing a successful business alongside it, Adam's future looked bright and secure, until the financial crisis struck in 2008," Ratcliffe said.
"His story, whilst not normal for most people suggests that you can never plan enough and that sometimes, events beyond our control are unavoidable.
"We appreciate Adam sharing his personal story and whilst it's good to have him involved as a PCA ambassador it's also good to have him available to share his wisdom with other professional cricketers, past and present."