Port Elizabeth: Nick Knight, the Warwickshire left-handed opening bat, is one of those oddities of modern cricket - the One-day specialist.
Odder too, from an England perspective, he is a successful one. England has frequently paid the price for picking players solely for One-day cricket but Knight is the exception which proves the rule. In 95 Limited Overs Internationals he has scored over 3,500 runs at an average of over 41 with five hundreds and 24 fifties. More important than his career record, is that he goes into the tournament in good form having emerged from the recent One-day triangular series in Australia, also featuring Sri Lanka, with 461 runs at 51.22. His runs also come at a decent rate as a career strike rate of 72 indicates. Knight, who began his career alongside Nasser Hussain at Essex, likes to go for his shots especially outside off stump and is prepared to innovate, be it with the reverse sweep or other unorthodox shots. However, the very qualities that have made him successful at this level have often been his downfall in the Test arena were in 17 matches he averages a meagre 23.96 with just one century against his name. In the five-day format captains are less concerned with saving runs so close catchers are in play for longer, slips ready to snaffle the deflections which prove so profitable in the One-day environment. Much to his annoyance, Knight has generally been written off as a Test batsman, save in case of emergency, having fallen behind Michael Vaughan and especially fellow left-handers Marcus Trescothick and Mark Butcher in the pecking order. At 33, his chances of re-establishing himself in the Test side are slim. But Knight who, following a loss of form, did not figure in a single World Cup match during England's embarrassingly early exit on home soil four years ago, despite being in the squad, is desperate to do well at this tournament. And England too will hope that one of its few reliable performers in One-day cricket over recent years keeps delivering the goods.
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