Cricket: Knight's nerve tested

Warwickshire 252 Worcestershire 20-2
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The Independent Online
Some things are easier to forecast than others. The rain, for instance, which trimmed yesterday's morning session by 22 overs was not foreshadowed by the experts. David Houghton, Worcestershire's coach, was much nearer the mark when he said he expected a seam bowlers' pitch here.

Neither side would have wanted it any other way.Unevenly grassed, the pitch provided enough movement and, from time to time, variations in bounce for any self-respecting seamer to have a birthday. Warwickshire's bizarre batting display tended to suggest they expected an unplayable ball any minute.

Alas for Worcestershire, Phil Newport, who would probably have made the ball do everything except talk, was unfit and the new ball was in the hands of the relatively inexperienced Alamgir Sheriyar and Maneer Mirza who, in their anxiety to exploit the conditions, found it hard to put two successive deliveries in the right place.

Even so, there was enough going on for Andy Moles and Nick Knight, both recovering from broken fingers, to be justifiably apprehensive against the new ball; Knight's innings was probably no better, though certainly no worse, than he feared after a seven-week absence.

Unsurprisingly, he found timing elusive. Once he even hurriedly took a hand off the bat. He prevailed for 17 exploratory overs, helped by a fair amount of bowling at his legs, and when he perished it was to an attempted cut off a ball that bounced more than he expected.

By now, with the ball starting to swing more than earlier in the sultry afternoon, the bowlers had no doubt relaxed and Sheriyar often went past the outside edge with splendid deliveries. But Warwickshire had long since embarked on a cheerful roller-coaster ride in which everything off length or line was heartily thumped away, typified by Neil Smith's 40 from 67 balls before he fell to the best of Steve Rhodes's four catches.