He struggled in the Test arena and made only one century, an innings of 113 vs Pakistan at Headingley in 1996. His next best score was 96 vs Zimbabwe in a drawn game at Bulawayo in 1996–97. The most obvious reason for this was his technique. Never afraid of genuine fast bowling, his footwork was often not decisive enough which caused him at times to appear to be backing away from short balls and his test innings frequently ended giving a catch to the slips or the wicket-keeper. As a fine fielder and a hard worker, it is surprising that he did not play more for England – the England team was not blessed with too many good batsman during Knight's era. However two of the better batsmen were Michael Atherton and Mark Butcher with whom Knight was vying for a place for most of his career. Atherton too was captain of England until 1998 so would have been an automatic choice for opening batsman.
Knight was a far more successful, and certainly regular, one day player for England. In one-day cricket, this backing away in fact helped him score a lot of runs and became something of a hallmark. This same strength / weakness was, curiously enough, mirrored in Michael Bevan – one of Knight's contemporaries. Whether Knight would have had Bevan's success had he been used in a similar "finishing" position is debatable but Knight could certainly have played more ODIs for England than he did.
Debuting in 1996, he scored centuries in his second and third innings in ODI cricket, on consecutive days against a Pakistan bowling attack that included Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.
Knight wasn't selected for the World Cup team in 1999 and made his World Cup debut in the 2003 tournament. He performed well in an unsuccessful campaign for England and faced the first delivery in cricket officially to break the 100 mph barrier, bowled by Shoaib Akhtar.