Knight's century fails to stop Kent taking command

Kent 347 - Warwickshire 288-7
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The Independent Online

Picture Brian Lara crashing an exquisite drive through the covers, or David Gower clipping one off his hips to the mid-wicket boundary for four. Well, yesterday's century by Nick Knight contained very few strokes of this calibre.

But it is just as well for Warwickshire that their captain has other qualities, and without Knight's second hundred of the season the county champions would have been in real trouble against Kent. Even so, following a late clatter of wickets, they are still looking vulnerable.

Before the loss of Knight for 100 Warwickshire, on 179-1, would have been targeting a first-innings lead. But attritional Kent bowling gradually wore down the visitors and by the close Warwickshire were 288-7, still 59 runs behind Kent'sfirst innings total of 347.

The method of Knight and Ian Bell, who scored 63 painstaking runs, did little to warm spectators on a fresh spring day. The sparse crowd at times became frustrated with the lack of ambition shown by Warwickshire's batsmen, yet this was largely down to the accurate bowling of Kent's disciplined attack. On a docile pitch David Fulton, the Kent captain, set realistic fields - a solitary slip with six fielders saving one - and his bowlers bowled to them.

This strategy eventually brought reward when Min Patel dismissed Knight and Bell in the 67th over of Warwickshire's reply. Jonathan Trott should have become Simon Cook's first first-class victim for Kent, when he edged a simple catch to Geraint Jones, but the England wicket-keeper grassed it. The drop did not prove costly - four runs later he became Patel's 500th victim for Kent when he was bowled off his pads.

Knight is not pretty to watch but he has developed a technique that works. He stands tall at the crease and pushes hard at the ball, and this is one of the principle reasons why he has only played in 17 Tests for England. But in one-day international and county cricket these faults have not been exposed - Knight's record in both is outstanding.

His main strength is his concentration. It was this part of his game which came to the fore yesterday. Knight scored freely at the start of Warwickshire's reply, but following lunch runs dried up and in the final two and a quarter hours he struck only one boundary.

Bell has an eye on establishing himself as England's No 3 this summer and he also took few risks. For almost four hours he played each ball on its merit. But then, two balls after Knight was adjudged to have edged Patel through to Jones, Bell attempted to cut the spinner and was trapped lbw.