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Warwickshire's Knight Struggles For England

Nick Knight, Warwickshire County Cricket ClubWarwickshire opener Nick Knight completed a miserable Test match that could lead to calls for his axing from the England side.

Two matches into his recall he was promoted to open in the second innings of the game against Zimbabwe.

The tourists had caught the England batsmen out by surprisingly declaring on their overnight total of 285-4 as they tried to put the match into a winnable situation.

Unprepared for a spell at the wicket, and in muggy conditions that saw the ball swing, England could only manage 147 – one run less than Murray Goodwin’s excellent effort yesterday.

Knight was given a golden opportunity to stake a claim at the top of the order when he was promoted to replace Mike Atherton.

The former skipper had spent the entire day off the field yesterday with a stomach upset, and the rules meant he was not allowed to enter the fray until the fall of the fifth wicket.

That was sooner coming than expected, as 19-year-old debutante Nkala snared Ramprakash and skipper Nasser Hussain.

The possibility of another embarrassing England defeat moved a step closer when Heath Streak blasted Knight’s middle stump out of the ground to make the score 12-3.

It was an emphatic end to a nervy performance for the Warwickshire batsman. Having made just six to go with his one run in the first innings, and with centrally-contracted Yorkshireman Michael Vaughan returning to fitness, the selectors will consider a switch.

Knight will want to take on the West Indies on his home track at Edgbaston in a fortnight, but an unconvincing display here has made that less likely.

In his defence he wasn’t the only English batsman to struggle, as the fall of wickets became steady.

A brief resurgence between Hick and Stewart ended when captain Andy Flower held on to a tough tumbling catch to his injured left hand.

Flintoff, looking for a big innings, walloped a mighty six, but soon gave his wicket away.

So Atherton came to the crease, seemingly enjoying his appearance as the best number seven bat in the world.

While he could cope with the quality of the Zimbabwe attack, others couldn’t and Schofield and Caddick both departed, before Atherton, who scored his 1,000th run at Trent Bridge was also out.

A typical blazing shot from Darren Gough ended the England innings.

Zimbabwe had been bold, trying to bluster England out and leave themselves a reachable target, but 237 was too much to ask.

As the game meandered to a draw, the sparse crowd was treated to one of the odder sights. Mark Ramprakash took the ball for the final over and instead of his part time off-spin, undertook impersonations of the world’s great fast bowlers.

The ploy nearly worked – his Malcolm Marshall recorded 72mph – as fast as some of the Zimbabwe attack and he put Guy Whittall into some difficulty, and almost added to his precious haul of four wickets.

After stumps were drawn, Nasser Hussain said some of his players needed more match practice before taking on the sterner challenge of the West Indies.

“Everyone’s going to go off to play county cricket, with the possible exception of Atherton.

“We are just going to meet up a day early and get hard in the nets.”

Warwickshire’s batsmen showed more resolve than England’s, and combined with the weather to earn a draw with Nottinghamshire.

The Bears reached 308-5 in their second innings at Edgbaston following Notts’ record 406-0 yesterday with Dominic Ostler top-scoring with 93.

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CWN / Sport / Cricket / Warwickshire Country Cricket / 5 Jun 00

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This page modified on 10 November 2008 09:49:15AM