Kieswetter rewarded for hard work
Craig Kieswetter, the England wicketkeeper, feels better prepared for his second stint in international cricket after a winter of hard work to iron out the problems that meant he went from winning the World Twenty20 to losing his place in less than a season.
Kieswetter burst onto the international scene on the tour of Bangladesh last winter, after being plucked from the Lions team that played England in UAE before that trip. He scored a hundred in his third ODI and then formed a hard-hitting opening partnership with Michael Lumb at the World Twenty20. Their rapid starts were key to England winning the title and Kieswetter was Man of the Match in the final against Australia.
On his return to England, Kieswetter found life tougher against a moving ball and 121 runs in eight innings against Australia and Bangladesh brought the axe, first from the one-day team and then from the Twenty20 side. However, England have again failed to settle on their wicketkeeper in the shorter formats, following Matt Prior's poor World Cup after his last-minute selection ahead of Steven Davies, so the revolving door has let Kieswetter back in.
"In international cricket, if you don't perform, you get dropped. That is what happened to me," he told reporters in Bristol. "It was massively disappointing. I think once you get a taste of international cricket, to be dropped is a hard pill to swallow. But I think I've bounced back quite nicely. The winter has been good and it is great to be back in fold."
His time out of the international circuit was spent working with Graham Thorpe, the Lions batting coach, and Bruce French, the England wicketkeeping coach who has also helped Prior. Kieswetter insists it hasn't been about reinventing himself as a player, but tightening up on certain areas that hindered his progress.
He bagged a pair in the latest Championship match against Warwickshire, bringing his average down to 32, but his numbers for the season are solid. In the CB40 he has scored 308 runs at an average of 154 and strike-rate of 99, while his Twenty20 strike-rate is 176, though he only has 69 runs in three innings.
"There have been a few things, a few technical issues and mental things. I've worked on my batting with Thorpey and then with Frenchy on the wicketkeeping side," he said. "I am definitely seeing the positives from those sessions. I've been a bit more solid in defence because I know I've got the attacking game.
"Look, I'm not going to change myself too much. I'm going to continue to be attacking. That's my role, my natural game but I'm a lot more tighter, a lot more controlled with the way I play."
Kieswetter will be part of Stuart Broad's first match as England Twenty20 captain, although there were doubts over Broad's fitness after he bruised his heel on the final day against Sri Lanka at the Rose Bowl. Broad, however, took full part in the fielding drills in Bristol on Thursday and he will undergo a more rigorous bowl tomorrow.
Sri Lanka, meanwhile, may still be without their captain, Tillakaratne Dilshan, for the Twenty20 as he recovers from the broken thumb that kept him out of the last Test. He is on course to be fit for the first one-day international at The Oval on Tuesday. "Maybe the Twenty20 international will be too soon," Stuart Law, the Sri Lanka coach, said. "But I would expect him to feature in the one-day series. He is not 100% yet but he is getting there."