Hampshire: Ian Holland finds a home in county cricket after reality television start

Hampshire all-rounder Ian Holland
Ian Holland qualifies as a British passport holder through his English father

There are very few players who made their way onto the county cricket circuit via a reality television series.

One who has, though, is Hampshire all-rounder Ian Holland, whose road to playing in the south of England can be traced back to an Australian show called Cricket Superstar.

Born in the United States, but a British passport holder through his English father, Holland has former Australia Test captain Allan Border to thank for his professional career.

In 2012, Holland edged out 14 other finalists who were selected through national trials for the Foxtel television series to earn the prize of a rookie contract with state side Victoria.

"It was one of those unique opportunities that popped up," the 26-year-old told BBC Radio Solent. "I went into it without any expectations and came out with an opportunity.

"It was a chance to fast-track myself at that point of my career and it got me a foot in the door of the Australian system."

Border was Cricket Superstar's chief judge with former Australia wicket-keeper Graham Manou its mentor, while Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting made guest appearances.

"It was a strange experience watching yourself back on television," Holland said. "There were a few challenges that looked good on camera, but it was Allan Border's involvement that gave it the credibility for me."

Ian Holland in action for Victoria
Ian Holland made just one first-class appearance for Victoria

But despite his TV success and subsequent path into state cricket, Holland found his chances for Victoria limited and a move to the Northern Hemisphere followed.

"I'd been playing for Fleetwood Cricket Club in the Northern League for the past couple of years," the right-hander and right-arm medium pacer said.

"Dimitri Mascarenhas is the connection to Hampshire from the time he moved back to Melbourne. I played some second-team cricket here last season and then the first XI chances have come this year."

Figures of 4-16 and 2-23 for Hampshire in the County Championship against Somerset this week have helped him build on a handful of one-day and four-day appearances earlier in the campaign.

"It's been a really great transition for me," Holland revealed. "I'm really enjoying my cricket here and it's just a great place to play.

"My goal is to play here for the rest of my career."

Ian Holland was talking to BBC Radio Solent's Kevan James.

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