Knight finished day two on 127 not out as England reached 235-8 at the close, trailing old cricket foes Australia’s first innings score of 337-9 declared by 102 runs.
No other frontline England batter managed more than 15, with the next highest scorer Sophie Ecclestone making 27 not out from number ten and sharing an important unbeaten 66-run partnership with her captain.
Earlier in the day, veteran seamer Katherine Brunt claimed her third five wicket haul in Tests, finishing with 5-60 after picking up two more wickets.
Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
In response to Australia’s total, England lost openers Tammy Beaumont and Lauren Winfield-Hill early as their batting collapsed around their captain.
Nat Sciver, Sophia Dunkley and Amy Jones all spent time at the crease alongside Knight but were unable to kick on.
Knight’s defiant hundred and her late fightback alongside Ecclestone ensured England have avoided the follow-on and, with rain forecast for the remaining two days, they could escape with a draw.
Australia currently lead the multi-format series 4-2 and, should England save the Test and earn a draw, they will need to win the three ODIs to win the series.
Knight’s magnificent innings led to fans comparing to her to England men’s captain Joe Root.
Root was named ICC Test cricketer of the year after amassing 1,708 runs in 2021, including six hundreds and four fifties.
However, no other England batter managed more than 530 runs and Rory Burns was the only player not named Root to reach three figures all year.
And fans were quick to point out that, like Root at the Ashes, Knight had managed to score runs while every other batter failed around her
“Heather Knight channeling her inner Joe Root, batting beautifully whilst wickets tumble at the other end,” wrote @KnightRider180. “It’s an England Captain thing.”
“Heather Knight, captain of England women’s test team, doing a Joe root there,” added @DhasmanaAshu. “Lone fighter standing against mighty Aussies. What an innings. Superb.”
“Heather Knight mirroring Joe Root, single-handedly making her team’s innings total look reasonable,” wrote @redbeardydom.
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Former England batter Ebony Rainford-Brent paid tribute to Knight’s innings, telling BT Sport it was “the perfect hundred”.
Ex-England spinner Alex Hartley tweeted: “Heather Knight. Grit. Determination. Patience. That’s a very very good knock. Proud English fan right here”.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan was also full of praise for Knight, tweeting: “England may be up against it but what a great innings from the skipper @Heatherknight55!! 127 high class runs”.
“It was massive, massive beyond a shadow of a doubt and she was resilient as ever and has a lot of fighting spirit,” Brunt said. “She is 100 per cent a leader and if you want to lead by example, that is how you do it.
“None of us thought she would go out there and not do it. We all believed she could do it, she does and Australia do too.
“That level of cricketer and that level of batter, that is what they are there to do. Unfortunately no one could back her up which was the sad thing about it for us.”