England news December 10, 2014

Kieswetter eye problems force lengthy lay-off

Craig Kieswetter's cricketing career has been thrown into doubt, certainly in the medium term, by the revelation that he is still suffering vision problems after being struck in the eye last summer and that he expects to withdraw from all professional cricket for the next year.

Problems have surfaced during Kieswetter's involvement in the South African domestic T20 tournament and, after discussions with specialists, he has withdrawn from top-level cricket to receive further treatment and assessment.

Somerset, his English county, have issued a statement saying that Kieswetter, "has struggled to regain perfect vision which has affected his performances in the recent SA domestic T20 tournament.

"As a result of this Craig will be withdrawing from the Big Bash T20 in Australia to undergo further specialist rehabilitation. The long-term prognosis is unknown at this stage but it is unlikely that he will be fit for the 2015 season."

Kieswetter was named in England's Long List of 30 for the World Cup last week but with Jos Buttler so dominant neither he nor Jonny Bairstow was expected to make the final 15.

Although the announcement is disturbing, there was no sense of defeatism from Kieswetter himself as he contemplated a prolonged and uncertain spell away from the game. "It is really disappointing but my eye is not 100% and this of course is critical in maintaining the levels of performance that I expect of myself," he said. "I need to make every effort to resolve the matter and have the best specialist help in that regard."

His involvement in the Ram Slam challenge was by no means disastrous. He played all 10 matches for Warriors, hitting 199 runs at 22.11, as his side failed to qualify for the semi-finals.

Kieswetter had surgery on a broken nose and fractured eye socket and also suffered a bloodied right eye after he mistimed a pull shot against Northants' allrounder David Willey during a Championship match in Northampton in July. The ball struck him and lodged in his helmet. He posted horrific pictures of the injury on social network sites but was assured at the time that there was no lasting damage to the eye.

He admitted that he feared his career might be over as he suffered double vision for a time but by the end of the season he was back in the Somerset Championship side and confident about his recovery.

Somerset preference for Kieswetter ahead of Buttler as their first-choice wicketkeeper caused Buttler to depart for Lancashire a year ago and by midsummer he had established himself as England's keeper in all three forms of the game, leaving Kieswetter to turn his grander ambitions to the worldwide domestic T20 circuit. Alex Barrow is one obvious deputy at Somerset for the 2015 season.

Somerset's new director of cricket Matt Maynard said: "This is clearly worrying news for Craig and his health and well-being are paramount in our minds at present. We will continue to support him during his treatment and rehabilitation and hope to see him return to playing as quickly as possible."

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

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