Knight turns on style

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The Independent Online

Grey skies and intermittent drizzle made for a day better spent indoors, but Nick Knight's inclination to do the opposite placed Warwickshire in a strong position on an abbreviated first day at Edgbaston and ensured that at least one of the frustrations suffered by the stylish left-hander in 1999 will not be extended this summer.

Knight failed to make a first-class century in 23 attempts last year as Warwickshire collectively under-achieved. Their new championship season is only one day old but he can reassure himself already that the record will not be repeated, finishing a 68-over day unbeaten on 127. It was the 21st first-class hundred of Knight's career and his first since September 1998.

Knight was so single-minded about reaching his goal that it was clear early in his innings that he would not be easily removed. Glamorgan's toiling quartet of seam bowlers had to work for any hint of reward on a slow but essentially good pitch offering only occasional encouragement, while Robert Croft's attempt to tie things down at the other end met with only limited success.

The Welsh county's attack may not be the most daunting on the circuit but Knight will draw satisfaction from his efforts as he attempts to further his renaissance as an England player. This time last year, already dismayed at being discarded from the Test side in 1998, his morale hit rock bottom when he failed to make the World Cup squad.

Having seemingly established himself as an international one-day batsman, this omission was particularly painful. As a result he set himself two goals, aiming to regain his place in the one-day side but also to correct the perception that he does not have the technique for five-day cricket.

He achieved the former last winter, when he was England's most accomplished batsman in the triangular one-day series in South Africa, and took a step towards the latter on the same trip, making a first-class hundred against a South African Invitation XI. A few more performances along the lines of yesterday's and the Test selectors will need to reconsider their assessment. Almost flawless for the best part of five hours, he managed only two fours in his first half-century but had added another 10 by the time bad light brought an early curtailment.

Glamorgan had to wait more than three hours to achieve their first breakthrough after Warwickshire had won the toss. An attractive 73 from Michael Powell, containing 10 boundaries, helped Knight put on 172 for the first wicket before Steve Watkin had Powell beaten on the back foot, their partnership the highest for the first wicket at Edgbaston since 1994.

* The all-rounder Abdur Razzaq is struggling to be fit for Pakistan's first Test against the West Indies starting in Georgetown, Guyana, tomorrow after straining a thigh muscle in training. The left-handed batsman Saeed Anwar will not play because he is recovering from a knee operation.

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