Nick Knight faces the ultimate test of his leadership policies in today's Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy final.

Knight has developed an impressive team at Warwickshire by pursuing his policy of backing players who are committed to the club. Not for him two overseas players or a host of Kolpak signings; he believes the disruption caused by a high turnover of players damages team spirit.

Besides, Knight wants to see young players at the club develop. He wants to ensure the team remains a force for another generation. Short-terms gains aren't of interest.

Knight has always insisted that the fruits of his policy would take at least three years to ripen. Yet his team lifted the Championship last year and now find themselves at Lord's. Already he can feel his firmness on the issue has been justified.

Without Knight's intervention the likes of Naqaash Tahir, Alex Loudon, James Anyon and Jonathan Trott might well not have been given a chance at the club. They owe him much.

The development of the young players has created excellent spirt at the club. The players know each other. They've seen each other in good times and bad. They trust one another on and off the pitch. The team spirit is excellent.

His side retains that vital vein of experience, however. Knight himself, Trevor Penney and Dougie Brown were all members of the side the last time Warwickshire won the Trophy (in 1995) and, against a side that has not played in a Lord's final since 1992, that could be vital.

Knight's policy also increases the bond between players and supporters. Those watching from behind the boundary know those on the pitch. They have a real relationship with them. They may have seen Jonathan Trott fight his way back to form in the seconds, or Jim Troughton learn his craft in the age group sides. They've seen Ian Bell blossom from promising schoolboy to world-class performer. Many of them will have shared a drink with Dougie Brown. They know the team they love are not just mercaneries; they play with real pride in the club they represent.

Several thousand of those Warwickshire followers will make their way to Lord's today and their support - surely the most vocal and passionate in the land - will be appreciated. "Our supporters are amazing," Knight said. "They made a huge difference when we played at home and we know that they'll be at Lord's in force. They give us a huge lift on the field."

The contrast between these sides is stark. Hampshire have had five overseas players this season (Shane Warne, Craig McMillan, Simon Katich and now Shane Watson and Andy Bichel), while three members of the team (Nic Pothas, Sean Ervine and Greg Lamb) are 'flag of conviencance' cricketers who learnt their trade in Africa. While eight members of their side have played One-Day Internationals, only four of them have represented England. And two of those are Kevin Pietersen, who has played just eight one-day games for the club, and John Crawley, who was at Lancashire for a decade.

Hampshire's policy would not appear to be doing them much harm. They briefly went to the top of the Championship table this week and could yet clinch a double this season. One could make a strong case to argue that had Knight compromised his position, Warwickshire would have been equally strong. Maybe.

Despite no stand-out performances, Warwickshire thrashed a Lancashire side brimming with talent in the semi-final. Every member of the team contributed. It was an example of spirit overcoming all the odds.

As ever, however, Knight's eyes are on the long-term. "This game is just another stage in this team's development," he said. "We're just really chuffed to be in the final. We're going to make sure we enjoy the day and I know that we've got the team that will rise to the occasion. They'll love it."

It is always foolhardy to make predictions, but experience does suggest some clues to today's game. If this game comes down to the wire, if the pressure is intense and the the result is decided by nerve and spirit, then Warwickshire will surely emerge triumphant. It's not just coincidence that Warwickshire invariably seem to win tight games; it down to the spirit that Knight's policy has generated.

Whatever happens today - and the bookies can hardly split the teams - Knight's policy has been in the long-term interests of the club. Win or lose, their supporters should be proud of their team.