Cricket: Knight's century flattens Sussex

COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP: Batsmen take control for Warwickshire and Lancashire but bowlers take the honours at The Oval
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Warwickshire 494-3 v Sussex

Nick Knight produced such a barrage of strokes against a pretty moderate Sussex attack that he went into lunch yesterday with 115 against his name. When he was out eight overs afterwards, the rest of the day inevitably seemed to be played in a rather lower key.

Dominic Ostler, Trevor Penney and Dermot Reeve, back on his original home ground, all contributed handsomely in their own individual styles. None could match the flair, the style and the range of stroke of the left-handed opener, however, as Warwickshire took control of the match with remorseless and typical efficiency.

The ball came nicely on to the bat for the strokemakers, but the basic lack of control by the four Sussex seam bowlers made life easy for the batsmen.

No one seemed capable of bowling a consistent line, let alone a consistent length, although, to be fair, a strong and bitterly cold north-east wind tested them, and the fielders, too.

Knight began by driving Ed Giddins with a flourish through extra cover, and then he swivelled and pulled him with considerable power through midwicket. When he turned his attention to the Barbadian Vasbert Drakes, he drove him past cover's right hand and whipped him away with a straight bat to the square-leg boundary.

Eventually his partner, Wasim Khan, decided to join in but, after driving the off-spinner Nick Phillips back over his head for four, he tried to repeat the stroke, was beaten in the air and bowled. This was in only the 12th over, with the score already on 68.

Knight then square-cut Phillips for his ninth four, which brought him to 50 in 41 balls. He raced on to his 100, which came three overs before lunch, with 18 fours from 80 balls.

He might have been run out when 96 if Martin Speight had thrown down the stumps from mid-wicket; otherwise there was no blemish.

Knight, 26, with two Tests behind him, is one of the batsmen whom the selectors will be looking towards. Of course, there is all the difference in the world between this Sussex bowling and a Test attack, but the way in which Knight made these runs only confirms his class.

After lunch, Drakes bowled round the wicket to him, and in pulling one which was too far up, edged it into his stumps. Ostler, who could only be faulted in comparison to Knight, was caught at deep square leg sweeping 10 runs short of his 100.

By then, Penney was batting beautifully, reaching 100 in 167 balls, and Reeve, who needs seven more for his, enjoyed seeing his old club suffer. These two have added 199.