Cricket: Knight to take the helm at MCC: All-round knowledge should help former Surrey captain

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ROGER KNIGHT, the former captain of Surrey, is to be the secretary of MCC from 1 January 1994. The 46-year-old Knight will succeed Lt Col John Stephenson to become the 13th holder of the office since Benjamin Aislabie in 1822.

Knight, who is headmaster of Worksop College, can look forward to a much smoother passage than Stephenson has enjoyed in his seven years of office.

As MCC chief executive and also secretary to the International Cricket Council, Stephenson has had to deal with many controversies, including rebel tours to South Africa, ball tampering, the admission of women to membership and, last year, a move by MCC members to disown the England selectors.

At least Knight will be shorn of ICC worries following the appointment of Dave Richards, of Victoria and the Australian Cricket Board, as its chief executive, a post which will remain based at Lord's.

Stephenson, 61, graduated to office, in difficult circumstances, from the position of MCC Assistant Secretary (Cricket). He first won public attention when, during wet spells, his tall, imposing figure would be seen marching out to the square, in green wellies and carrying the club's red and gold striped umbrella, to consult the head groundsman on the state of the surface and the likelihood of play. He often got a cheer.

In 1987 Stephenson succeeded Jack Bailey who had resigned as secretary in an acrimonous dispute over what he regarded as encroachments, principally by the Test and County Cricket Board, on MCC's status and prerogatives.

Stephenson proved a good peacemaker. He managed a working relationship with the TCCB and its chief executive, Alan Smith, satisfied his masters at the ICC and, perhaps, most importantly, managed to persuade the media that MCC was alive and kicking and not composed of snoring dinosaurs.

Stephenson's clashes with the tabloid press were hugely enjoyed by both sides. In one of the periodic rows over gaining admission to the ground, or the pavilion, at Lord's he once defended his much-criticised stewards by observing, straight-faced: 'The best way to approach a Lord's gateman is by offering him the right ticket.'

During Stephenson's tenure the media's demands grew from company to regimental size. He won much goodwill for MCC by making himself available and always being willing to discuss an amiable compromise.

He said yesterday: 'I would like to remain involved in cricket in some way but at the moment all my thoughts are centred on the new season, which is just around the corner.'

In Knight, MCC are reverting to a cricketer with a background similar to Bailey's. Born in Streatham, he went from Dulwich College to Cambridge where he was a Blue for four years and captained the University.

A left-handed middle-order batsman and medium fast right-arm bowler, Knight passed 1,000 runs 12 times during his 15-year career, averaging 31.65, and took 342 wickets, at an average of 36.

As well as Surrey, he played for Gloucestershire and Sussex and cannot be accused by the fiercer partisans of the TCCB of having no understanding of the grass roots of county cricket.

He was persuaded to rejoin Surrey, as captain, in succession to John Edrich in 1978. With Micky Stewart, who became team manager in 1979, he revitalised the county, leading them to four successive one-day finals at Lord's

(Photograph omitted)

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