Saturday, 7 June 2014

Knight impact needs further thought

I've been ruminating this morning.

OK, for maximum effect I should have written 'Oi been ruminatin' this maarnin'...perhaps making me sound more Wurzel-like. Though why I'd want to do such a thing is a moot point.

Still, a-ruminating I have been, as I have gone around my chores and the focal point of them was Tom Knight in the game against Nottinghamshire yesterday.

I'm a self-confessed fan of the lad and have been since I first saw him. His action is in the process of being revamped and I'm not going to sit here and say there was nothing wrong with the old one. If better coaches than me think they can improve his bowling with a couple of tweaks, then such a medium to long-term project is good enough for me.

Where I don't think we were fair to the lad, however, was in his batting slot at number three, effectively in a straight swap with Chesney Hughes. I have advocated giving him a go as a pinch-hitter, but in doing so we have to be sensible.

His normal place in the order is at seven or eight and he has worked his way up the team sheet quite nicely with an improved technique and the ability to time the ball and hit it a long way. That regular slot is in the second team and also at Swarkestone, where in a strong batting side he often struggles to get in much earlier.

I think Knight could be successful in that pinch-hitting role, but the club has to do right by him. I'd like to see him batting at three (or opening) for the second team in their game this Monday and I'd like to see him given similar opportunity by his club side on a regular basis.

Facing a new ball is, as I have written before, considerably different to batting down the order. The ball bounces and moves more and the bowlers are generally fresh. It is less an enterprising initiative and more of a sacrifice if  someone is put in there to slap it about without prior experience of doing so. It is hardly fair to someone to say that we think you're a good enough player to bat eight for us as a rule, but we would like you to bat three against our local rivals in front of four thousand people on a Friday night. It might come off, but the thinking money would be against it. And at the end of the day you prove and learn nothing.

Turning it on its head, you wouldn't thank your mate for a safe lift to the Silverstone Grand Prix, then tell him he was replacing Lewis Hamilton on the starting grid. Nor would you toss a promising spinner the new ball and tell him to bowl seam-up. I think that Knight's use in the role he was offered last night is a valid one and he has shown on several occasions that he has the ability to pierce and clear the field against decent bowlers. Yet the only way that he can be expected to play that role on a regular basis is to be given greater opportunity to do so.

There is no logic to someone being considered good enough to bat three at county level, yet much lower in second team and club cricket. I'd like to see that on the 'action' list in the teams concerned. If the lad proves he isn't able to do it on a regular basis, that's fair enough, but he should at least be afforded better preparation next time.

That way, his chances will improve considerably.

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