England Lions in UAE February 7, 2010

'I feel as English as anybody' - Kieswetter

Cricinfo staff

England's list of wicketkeeping candidates will increase mid-way through February when Craig Kieswetter, the South Africa-born gloveman who plays for Somerset, completes his four-year qualification period. Kieswetter is expected to earn international honours in the near future, as much on the strength of his batting as his keeping, despite concerns over the number of South Africans in the team.

Kieswetter has flown out to UAE this weekend as part of the England Lions squad and becomes eligible for full honours on February 17 - the day he is likely to play against England in Dubai - and it isn't out of the question that he will be considered for the ICC World Twenty20 in West Indies at the end of April.

He has made his name on the county scene with a string of destructive one-day batting performances alongside Marcus Trescothick at the top of Somerset's order and some observers believe he could make it as a specialist batsman. Early on England's tour of South Africa Graeme Smith said he'd like Kieswetter to return home, but the keeper quickly reiterated his desire to play for England and now hopes talk about his roots will disappear

"My four years are now up so this is a massive thing for me and I feel as English as anybody else does and I am just happy that is now out of the way, and hopefully people can now concentrate on talking about my cricket rather than my background," Kieswetter told the Somerset website. "It has been pretty much a roller coaster for me to have reached this level because I am only 22 years old now.

"I am really excited about where I am with my game at the moment and comfortable with a lot of the technical side of things as well as trying to balance technique with flair. Pulling on an England shirt and testing myself against international players will be another challenge for me and it will enable to see where I am at the moment."

Kieswetter was part of the England Performance Programme which spent time in Pretoria before Christmas and worked with Bruce French, England's wicketkeeping coach, who has played a key role in Matt Prior's improvement.

However, towards the end of the South Africa tour Geoff Miller, the national selectors, made it clear that there would need to be a rethink over the use of players born overseas. Kieswetter played for South Africa at the 2005-06 Under-19 World Cup before committing his future to England through county cricket.

"We have got to get to the stage where we are very careful on that [the number of South Africans in the England team], and we will be," Miller said. "I wouldn't say he's the last but we will monitor it. But Craig has passed all the criteria required to be an English cricketer. He has proved his worth, that's why he's there.

"He has developed his game, he's a strong character so he fits all the bills from an England point of view. South Africa talked to him and he said 'I'm English, I want to play for England'."

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