Cricket: Knight eager for ultimate test
England's swashbuckling opener wants another chance to prove his five-day worth. Derek Pringle reports from Bridgetown
Tuesday 31 March 1998
Specialisation (the term exists for botanists as well as cricket coaches) is a problem with which Nick Knight, last Sunday's man of the match, is only too acutely aware. Notching his third one-day century, an innings that helped England to their eighth one-day victory in a row, Knight is also keen to add to his 11 Test caps, but feels one-day cricket is no longer the stepping stone it perhaps was in the past.
"They are very different forms of cricket now," said the left-hander, who has taken Michael Atherton's place as opener. "I know these games get me back in the shop window, but I haven't approached it with Tests in mind. As far as I'm concerned, it's just good to be back involved and the most important thing for me now is to do well."
Knight does not wear his modesty well, and why should he. His 122 against an attack bristling with the likes of Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh left many exultant, and Bob Willis - one of those to witness Viv Richards' brutal 189 at Old Trafford from as close as 22 yards - hailed it as one of the best limited-over knocks he had ever seen.
For the majority of players there is no real lasting pleasure from one- day heroics, and only the World Cup - and then only if you reach the final - possesses anything like the kudos of a Test match.
Knight knows this, and following last winter's tour of Zimbabwe and New Zealand, which saw his technique disintegrate almost as badly as his left index finger (he still has six pins holding it together) has set about rehabilitating himself. In such situations, broken digits are often healed sooner than bad habits, such as Knight's proclivity to dabble with, rather than leave, balls just outside his off stump.
"I'm worried about this word `technique' that flies around. I'm aware that I'm not the perfect technician, but I work at it. Everybody has to constantly update their technique, but it doesn't happen overnight or just by clicking your fingers."
Like Atherton did last autumn, Knight has been having one-to-one sessions with Graham Gooch, his former captain at Essex, and more recently the manager of the England A tour to Kenya and Sri Lanka, captained by Knight.
"I've had three or four sessions and they've been a great help. Deep down, though, I know I've got to go back to Warwickshire this summer and score runs in the Championship. Although I prefer to open, I'll bat anywhere for England, but I need runs first to put me in the frame."
Before that happens, he has four more one-day internationals in the Caribbean, including another at the Kensington Oval, scene of that marvellous hundred. Indeed, could his blitzkrieg even be topped?
"I don't think you ever really know how good you are going to be. You just keep trying to improve. Sunday's knock probably was one of my best. But I'll keep working in the hope that there's more, and better to come, in all forms of the game."
First one-day international scoreboard
West Indies won toss
N V Knight run out 122
171 min, 130 balls, 13 fours, 4 sixes
A J Stewart b Walsh 74
119 min, 85 balls, 9 fours
G A Hick b Lewis 29
49 min, 39 balls, 1 five
G P Thorpe b Simmons 4
13 min, 7 balls
*A J Hollioake not out 18
34 min, 14 balls, 3 fours
M A Ealham b Simmons 20
11 min, 14 balls, 1 four, 1 six
M V Fleming not out 22
10 min, 12 balls, 2 fours, 1 six
Extras (lb4) 4
Total (for 5, 206 min, 50 overs) 293
Fall: 1-165 (Stewart) 2-227 (Hick) 3-228 (Knight) 4-249 (Thorpe) 5-271 (Ealham).
Did not bat: B C Hollioake, R D B Croft, D R Brown, D W Headley.
Bowling: Rose 6-0-31-0 (one spell); Walsh 10-0-57-1 (7-0-42-0, 3-0-15- 1); Ambrose 8-0-42-0 (5-0-18-0, 3-0-24-0); Hooper 10-0-46-0 (nb1) (one spell); Lewis 8-0-55-1 (3-0-24-0, 5-0-31-1), Simmons 8-0-58-2 (one spell).
Progress: 50: 41 min, 61 balls. 100: 84 min, 123 balls. 150: 109 min, 163 balls. 200: 150 min, 223 balls. 250: 185 min, 274 balls.
Knight's 50: 57 min, 49 balls, 7 fours, 2 sixes. 100: 136 min, 110 balls, 11 fours, 3 sixes. Stewart's 50: 99 min, 68 balls, 6 fours.
C B Lambert c Stewart b Headley 11
20 min, 9 balls, 2 fours
P A Wallace c Hick b Brown 13
14 min, 12 balls, 3 fours
*B C Lara run out 110
140 min, 106 balls, 15 fours, 3 sixes
C L Hooper c Headley b Fleming 45
61 min, 34 balls, 8 fours
S Chanderpaul c Knight b Croft 8
15 min, 12 balls, 1 four
P V Simmons b A Hollioake 18
31 min, 29 balls, 2 fours
J R Murray c Stewart b Headley 7
27 min, 13 balls
R N Lewis st Stewart b Ealham 27
44 min, 33 balls, 3 fours
F A Rose c A Hollioake b Fleming 24
49 min, 29 balls, 1 six
C E L Ambrose not out 3
13 min, 6 balls
C A Walsh b Ealham 0
5 min, 2 balls
Extras (lb7, w1, nb3) 11
Total (214 min, 46.5 overs) 277
Fall: 1-25 (Wallace), 2-27 (Lambert), 3-115 (Hooper), 4-145 (Chanderpaul), 5-187 (Simmons), 6-219 (Lara), 7-222 (Murray), 8-266 (Lewis), 9-274 (Rose), 10-277 (Walsh).
Bowling: Brown 5-1-32-1 (w1) (one spell); Headley 10-0-63-2 (nb4) (5- 0-34-1, 5-0-29-1); Ealham 7.5-0-37-2 (5-0-29-0, 2.5-0-8-2); Fleming 7- 0-54-2 (5-0-43-1, 2-0-11-1); Croft 10-0-37-1 (one spell); A Hollioake 7-1-47-1 (6-1-36-1, 1-0-11-0).
Progress: 50: 42 min, 54 balls. 100: 66 min, 85 balls. 150: 106 min, 137 balls. 200: 139 min, 192 balls. 250: 182 min, 250 balls.
Lara's 50: 70 min, 53 balls, 10 fours. 100: 126 min, 97 balls, 13 fours, 3 sixes.
Umpires: B Morgan and E Nicholls. TV replay umpire: H Moore. Match referee: R S Madugalle.
Man of the match: N V Knight. Adjudicator: J Garner.
ENGLAND WON BY 16 RUNS.
And why are 'southern' ways of speaking spreading north?
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