Cricket: Applauding from a great height

Derek Hodgson on the century which finally brought Illingworth to his feet

Ray Illingworth, the chairman of England selectors, ostentatiously climbed on to a chair on the players' balcony to applaud Nick Knight's maiden Test hundred. It was his riposte to a tabloid criticism that he had remained seated when England colleagues had cheered Alec Stewart's hundred on Saturday. Stewart, standing alongside the chair, laughed outright.

Illy, angry in the morning, had every reason to be pleased by tea. He had insisted that the Mike Atherton-Stewart opening partnership be restored and that the left-handed Knight be dropped down the order to No 6 to counter Pakistan's feared reverse swing using the old ball. The strategy worked brilliantly but the Pakistanis would say that a softish pitch and the damp Leeds air were also factors. Knight, 26, was delighted: "It's what every boy dreams of. A marvellous moment and I hope there'll be many more. I don't care where I bat as long as I am involved. It's a good pitch to bat on and it was my job to help Jack Russell and the tail get as many runs as possible.

"We had no special instructions - if the ball was there to be hit, I hit it. The competition for a place is stepping up and I know if I am to stay in I need as many runs as possible."

Meanwhile the host club Yorkshire were pondering their president's remarks that the largest county could lose Test match status unless behaviour on the infamous Western Terrace improved. There were 120 ejections on Saturday, with 11 arrests, the president, Sir Lawrence Byford, a former HM Inspector of Constabulary, himself marching over there to try to maintain order.

Alf Davies, chief executive of the Leeds rugby league club, who own the ground, admitted that his club were wondering what to do next. Around 3,000 seats have been removed, widening the gangways, the licensing hours are sharply restricted (with the police having power to close the two bars at any time) and an army of stewards are on duty. But trouble still persists, on Saturday on two fronts, with Newcastle United football supporters taunting those of Leeds and white youths clashing with Pakistanis.

It seems the terrace's very reputation attracts exhibitionists whose ambition is to appear on television, on live outside and on the big screen inside, their attendance at cricket being only incidental.

It is unlikely that the TCCB will disenfranchise a county in which 20 per cent of English cricket is played. What is certain is that the latest furore will strengthen those on the Yorkshire committee who want to take the headquarters, and eventually the Test match, to a new site either near the A1 in Leeds or between the M1 and M62 in Wakefield.

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