Bangladesh v England, 3rd ODI, Dhaka March 5, 2010

Kieswetter goes against the script

England's latest opener was meant to provide the early momentum, but instead he made his mark with a controlled and measured century

It was rather like turning up to the cinema expecting a showing of Lethal Weapon III, only to be presented with a slow-burn epic. Craig Kieswetter's first blockbusting performance for England ended up wowing the critics on levels that few had expected him to reach, as the direction of his maiden award-winning performance rather deviated from the pre-series script.

Kieswetter's arrival in England colours had been of the all-action variety. On his first full day after completing his four-year residency qualification, he produced a rough-and-tumble 81 to carry the England Lions to victory over their senior counterparts in Abu Dhabi, and he responded to his subsequent call-up to the England squad with a blazing 143 from 123 balls in the first warm-up match at Fatullah.

Here, it was presumed, was the answer to England's Powerplay prayers - a player with the skill and strength to muscle the ball to the boundary at will, and provide the side with a platform not seen since his Somerset colleague, Marcus Trescothick, took his leave of England duty in the summer of 2006.

What Kieswetter actually produced was a performance that tapped into intense mental reserves, as he became, at 22 years and 97 days, the second-youngest England batsman (after David Gower and just before his current captain, Alastair Cook) to rack up an ODI century. That he did so in conditions entirely alien to his hometown of Taunton, in a style entirely at odds with his gung-ho expectations, and having failed rather frenetically in his opening two internationals, was an added testament to his resolve.

"For me it was about being able to adapt mentality," said Kieswetter. "In the first two games I wasn't quite aware tactically of how I was going to pace my innings, [in terms of] helping the team win the game. Today I tried to pace myself a bit more, and try to get myself in more before playing big shots. It is nice to get a hundred under my belt early in my career, and it's one I'm going to cherish, but the fact that we won the game and won the series also means a lot to me."

"He played totally differently to the way he has been playing," said Cook. "But to play the situation is probably what international cricket is all about, being able to adapt like he's done there. It shows that he's bright, and that he's got a massive future in international cricket."

If Kieswetter's call-up had been with the World Twenty20 in mind - and prior to the series, England's coach, Andy Flower, implied that it had been - then it might come as a mild source of embarrassment to the selectors that the only player to have been omitted from their provisional squad of 30, Cook, outpaced his partner in each and every one of their three opening partnerships.

For the third match running, Kieswetter started out like a dozing hare to Cook's tortoise, as the captain's graft and accumulation allowed him to amble into the 20s before his anxious partner had escaped single figures. Following on from his jittery 19 on debut in Mirpur, and his flashy 4 in the second match two days later, the signs for England's newest recruit weren't entirely encouraging.

I played second fiddle, and I kind of enjoyed that challenge, of trying to expand my game and let someone else play aggressively. It's been an eye-opener out here, but whenever you go to different countries and different continents, you have to adapt your game

At least, that's how it appeared from the sidelines. Out in the middle, Kieswetter was busy re-evaluating his strategies, and enjoying the experience of slip-streaming his fast-paced colleague. His maiden ODI half-century came from a stately 80 balls (which was still good enough to win a US$1000 "fastest fifty" award as no one else passed fifty in the match), but he rushed to his hundred from a further 40, as the benefits of bedding in came flooding out in the final 15 overs, and out came the shots with which he's forged his young reputation.

"Cooky took over my role," said Kieswetter. "He was bashing them around while I played second fiddle, and I kind of enjoyed that challenge, of trying to expand my game and let someone else play aggressively. It's been an eye-opener out here, but whenever you go to different countries and different continents, you have to adapt your game. Instead of rapid pace, you face some twirlers who are spinning it quite a lot. It was a mental change for me, but I'm happy with how it turned out."

As if Kieswetter didn't have enough on his plate, having been teased by Bangladesh's left-arm spinners to an extent matched only by the struggling Kevin Pietersen, he had to withstand another wave of unwelcome criticism of his credentials, following Michael Vaughan's comments to the press about South African imports. As it happens, Vaughan is also a member of Kieswetter's management team, ISM, which can't have gone down well at headquarters, but fortunately Chittagong is a far enough corner of a foreign field to allow such furores to pass without much comment.

"It's something that I'm going to have to put up with for my whole career," said Kieswetter - not for the first, and surely not for the last time in his career. "I was born with a British passport, I've done my four years, I am British, and I don't see it as an issue. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but for me it's about putting performances in on the park and helping England win." And he certainly did that second part in style.

Nevertheless, his success has created a significant headache for England's selectors - as well as the man who was sat next to him in the press conference. For the return series in May, Andrew Strauss is due to resume his role at the top of the order, and three into two most certainly will not go, especially now that Kieswetter has demonstrated durability at the crease, as well as combustibility.

Until Morgan's matchwinning 110 at Dhaka on Tuesday, Strauss was one of only two England batsmen to make an ODI hundred in the past 12 months, so his place in the pecking order presumably has to be secure. Which can only leave Cook on the fringes once again, and braced for another abrupt omission from England's limited-overs plans.

"We can only score runs and put pressure on the selectors to make a decision," said Cook. "I'd have liked to score a hundred, but I'm really pleased with my contribution to the top of the order. Selection is out of my hands, as it always tends to be, so I'll just have to wait my turn, but Straussy is the captain of England, and he has to come straight back in."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo. Go to to follow him on Twitter through the England tour of Bangladesh.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 6, 2010, 18:40 GMT

    Kieswetter was offered a place @ Millfields, probably one of the most prestegious secondry-6th form schools is England, also his mum is scottish, and spent his school holidays living with the british half of his family, and although it isn't well known he has critisiced the quota system. Why does everyone care if people who weren't born here. Also a bit rich for Micheal Vaughan to comment on rights to play for certain teams, wasn't he ineligable to play for Yorkshire originally because he was born in Lancashire? But because they didnt want him he got into Yorkshire.... Funny that isn't it. Also isn't what Vaughan is saying the same as saying '(insert nationality) person, coming over here, stealing our jobs' but because it's in relation to sport I suppose that makes it ok. (being sarcastic about that last bit btw, don't want anyone getting the wrong idea about me lol)

  • Adam on March 6, 2010, 17:50 GMT

    Hmm, after having a look, perhaps KP and Kies are the same really, in terms of when i their careers they decided to play for England, KP seems to have genuine reasons though, think I need a nice Cricinfo interview where Craig explains why he wants to play for us rather than SA

  • Adam on March 6, 2010, 12:52 GMT

    I agree with Phil. I'm English and it was great to see Keiswetter perform for us, but he's South African through-and-through, and its unfair on homegrown players who won't get a sniff for a good while now, since it seems he'll soon have the keepers gloves for the foreseeable future. I think you have to draw a line somewhere, and on Keis surely it can be drawn. SA born players like Strauss and Prior learnt their cricket here, and KP made a decision early enough in his career to play for England, but Keis represented SA then has suddenly decided to play for the English team instead. I'd like to know more about his reasons for defecting

  • Andrew on March 6, 2010, 10:42 GMT

    I think its disgraceful that people are questioning Kieswetter's loyalty. He was born with a British passport. Personally that is the end of the issue. Lets be honest, if people feel that he is trying to play for England rather than South Africa - that is hardly the prudent course of action for a selfish mercenary. South Africa will be looking for a keeper in all forms of the game increasingly in the next couple of years.

    As for Michael Vaughan's comments I am puzzled. I would never say a word against him in recognition of the manner in which he conducted himself as England captain. In essence I think he has earned the right to give his opinion. I can imagine that it must be hard for him handing over the range. A couple of times on commentary I got the impression he was living the match as captain again. Perhaps he is desperate to get involved and stirring controversy is one way of achieving this objective.

  • Soji on March 5, 2010, 22:53 GMT

    The latest recruit from Somerset to the English team is surely gonna rock. If any of the tam have a keeper and a dashing opener in one man then they gonna hit the top chart. We know the example of Gilly replacing Healy and Taylor at one go.And what happened the rest is history for Aussies cricket.Hope Keiswetter will focus more on the cricket and not the IPL and 20-20 riches in the years to come. You have a long way to go, buddy !!!

  • Phil on March 5, 2010, 21:10 GMT

    He`s NOT English. At what stage do you draw the line? This isn't football or any club based sport. We`re supposed to be watching the best each country has to offer. Michael Vaughan is dead right. The ECB is only allowing this because they don`t have the true depth to compete with SA, India and Australia. But is this the answer? Like Football, they are slowly destroying the true incentives for grassroots players to aspire to compete with the worlds best. Why should young English kids strive for this if the door is open to any foreigner with the slightest chance of qualification? Im a Kiwi (proud and true) with British born and raised parents who has spent under 2 years of my life in the UK and IF i was good enough, should i be eligible for he "English" cricket team? No bloody way! Keep the game true to its root!

  • Arjun on March 5, 2010, 15:42 GMT

    It was a great inns from Craig Kieswetter.It was nice to see him score a century at such an early stage of his international career.I've been a big fan of his batting for a couple of years now..He has played some great knocks for somerset and there is an opportunity for him to replace Matt Prior and become a permanent fixture in the English team as a wkt keeper batsman..Congrats Craig!!!

  • Peter on March 5, 2010, 15:05 GMT

    I think it would be good to see if Kieswetter can open the batting and keep wickets too, especially now that he has got runs under his belt. Then you could play Cook/Strauss in the middle order and drop Prior. Prior is England's Michael Slater - looks like he can play really good aggressive knocks in the longer form of the game but not in the shorter forms. I don't care that he's been moved around the batting order heaps, fact is average of 25 and strike rate of 74 doesnt cut it. Anyway, it couldn't hurt to try Kiewswetter as keeper - he's done it pretty successfully at first class level. Next England batting lineup could be Strauss, Kies, KP, Cook, Collingwood, Morgan and then whoever they want at number 7 onwards.

  • Syed Awad on March 5, 2010, 14:56 GMT

    Ever since he has retired, Vaughan has been upto no good. His comments are derisive and uncalled for. He questioned Trott's allegiance, was sceptical about Strauss's captaincy and now he is giving Kieswetter a hard time. Why is he doing it, I am stumped.

  • Dave on March 5, 2010, 13:53 GMT

    A bit of rotation won't harm at the top of the Order, especially if Strauss is going to miss some games to stay sharp.

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