England news April 24, 2013

Kieswetter eyes Prior example

From being England's first-choice one-day wicketkeeper, Craig Kieswetter now faces a summer on the county circuit trying to force his way back into international contention. But he is refusing to dwell on the disappointments of the India tour and is using the example of a fellow England gloveman as inspiration in his attempts to return.

Matt Prior rounded off his winter with a match-saving hundred in Auckland to cap a tour, following on from an impressive series in India, that elevated him to the position of being arguably the finest wicketkeeper-batsman in Test cricket. However, Prior, as Kieswetter is experiencing now, went through a period where people questioned his credentials at the top level when he was dropped after the Sri Lanka tour in 2007.

It was Prior's glovework that was the key reason for his demotion - he was averaging 40.14 when he was left out but had dropped a raft a chances - whereas for Kieswetter the axe came because of a lack of runs in the middle order. Yet while the situations differ somewhat, Prior's return to the Test scene, and subsequent rise in standing among his associates, shows what can be achieved.

"Matt Prior changed his game completely and made himself into the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the world, that in itself is an inspiration," Kieswetter told ESPNcricinfo. "It's great to see a player who has gone through a patch like that and come out of the other side where the grass is so much greener."

Not that Kieswetter has suddenly been forgotten by England - that does not happen in the current set up. He was named in the 30-man performance squad for the summer then the 30-man preliminary squad for the Champions Trophy and while neither have much meaning in the bigger picture, the England set-up do not just toss players aside. Kieswetter continues to work with Bruce French, the England wicketkeeping coach, someone he says he has great "trust" with.

The disappointment of being dropped lingered with Kieswetter for a little while - it would be a surprise if it hadn't - but the rapidly approaching county season allowed him to quickly switch his focus back to cricket in an environment at Somerset where he feels extremely secure and well supported. He made 72 in the opening match against Durham batting at No. 3 before moving down the order following Alvrio Petersen's arrival.

"Any time a player gets dropped they have got to get over that," he said. "But I've got a club to be around who can provide the structure I felt I needed. It's been a good start to the summer and hopefully that can bear some fruit towards the end."

There is, however, a tricky dynamic that has development at Somerset; a challenge for Dave Nosworthy, the new director of cricket, to confront. Kieswetter's replacement in the England side was Jos Buttler, his Somerset team-mate, and now both men have begun the season eager to take the gloves - for obvious reasons. Ashley Giles, the England limited-overs coach, has been in contact with the county but has said he will not interfere.

Kieswetter has started with the gloves in the Championship, but it remains to be seen who does the role when the Yorkshire Bank 40, and later the Twenty20, begins. It seems likely that Buttler will be first choice in coloured clothes with Kieswetter having to bide his time until the former is on international duty for his chance.

"It's going fine at the moment," he said. "We have a policy and a game plan at the club and that's something we are dealing with in house. We are pretty confident and comfortable with the situation.

"It's good to have a few keepers around the side, we can work together and feed off each other," he added. "When you have training days it's great to work together, share ideas, and we are all good friends. I think that's really important not just for improving your game but also building your character. At times keeping can be a lonely place, a bit like a goalkeeper I guess, but it's a very rewarding job and one that I love doing."

Chance to Shine ambassador Craig Kieswetter was helping to promote the 'play hard, play fair' message of MCC Spirit of Cricket. Chance to Shine has brought cricket to over 1.8 million state schoolchildren. The programme costs £5million, or £15 per child, to run each year. To make a donation visit www.chancetoshine.org

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 26, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    @hhillbumper . Perhaps Kieswetter and Dernbach should take Prior (Born February 26, 1982, Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa) with them, then?

  • Simon on April 25, 2013, 19:16 GMT

    Well said Munkey. Kieswetter is an exceptional batsman, and well suited to FC cricket. There is every chance Priors successor is at the county gorund. But there is no way either of them are leaving the West country. I shudder to think of the dark cloud that fell over Taunton when Wes Durston was released.

  • Mark on April 25, 2013, 12:42 GMT

    @hhillbumper: Kieswetter is a better FC player than OD player. Whilst Prior is the obvious number one without doubt, Kieswetter is a worthy backup provided he keeps improving. He can be a dangerous lower order batsman in FC games. Whether he can translate that into a good test batsmen against faster, top-quality bowler remains to be seen, but he is trying and he should be given a chance if he continues his form and Prior, god forbid, gets injured. He is a good keeper.

  • stuart on April 25, 2013, 11:34 GMT

    the difference of course being that Prior is a top class batsman and has made himself into a top class wicket keeper.Kieswetter is part of a south african fixation that English cricket needs to get rid off.Hopefully he can take Dernbach with him into the sunset

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