Charles James Knott
November 26, 1914, Southampton, Hampshire
February 27, 2003, Southampton, Hampshire, (aged 88y 93d)
Right hand Bat
Charlie Knott was one of Hampshire's leading amateur bowlers. His challenging offbreaks, full of deceptive cunning and quietly paraded with the tidiest of loops, brought him 676 wickets between 1938 and 1954. They nearly brought him England recognition, too. He was seriously considered for the MCC tour of Australia and New Zealand in l950-51. As he used to joke, he was measured for his blazer but that was as far as it got.
The best batsmen of his day all agreed he was a big spinner. In l946, against the Indians, he took ten wickets in the match; two summers later, his 5 for 57 against the Australians earned much critical comment and acclaim. So why did he remain an amateur? He certainly agonised, at times, as much over the fraught demands of his working diary as a fish merchant as on the subtleties and variations needed at the county ground in Southampton. His business commitments often caused difficulties when it came to fitting in the Hampshire matches, which were his abiding therapy and passion.
A slight, self-effacing man, Knott was for a time vice-captain under Desmond Eagar. The first season after the war was his best; four times he took l00 wickets in a summer. In one of his two appearances for the Gentlemen against the Players at Lord's he completed a hat-trick. He privately relished the feat, not the limelight.
His affection for Hampshire went back to schooldays, when he would stand transfixed at the side of the Northlands Road nets as Philip Mead, those endearing physical quirks as evident as ever, practised for the match. Charlie on occasions helped with the scoreboard; he was in childlike awe of the game's ritual, hardly imagining that one day he would be in the team on merit.
He frequently worked long hours because of the dual commitments of his life. But he liked being busy and was involved with local speedway and greyhound racing. County cricket, especially Hampshire's fortunes, was still a lifetime obsession. For 2l years, after retiring as a player, he was chairman of the cricket committee. His influence in bringing formidable overseas players to the county was enormous. "Charlie was a shrewd business man, of course. He had a valuable network of contacts and was highly resourceful when it came to going for big names. In the nicest sense, he was a bit of a wheeler-dealer," said one friend.
Barry Richards, Andy Roberts and Malcolm Marshall all joined the county when he was cricket chairman. Gordon Greenidge came as a l6-year-old and actually lodged with Charlie for a time. Titles were also won during the Knott reign. Nothing pleased him more, of course, than the championship crown in l973.
Wisden Cricket Monthly 2003
Batting & Fielding