County news June 5, 2015

Three months that made Kieswetter a World T20 winner

In the space of a few months in 2010, Craig Kieswetter went from an England Lions cricketer to a key part of the only England team to win global silverware

Craig Kieswetter reaches his fifty in the 2010 World T20 final © Getty Images

It is a scorecard that you have to do some digging to find. February 17, 2010. Venue: Abu Dhabi. Yet it was a match that would launch the most memorable three months of Craig Kieswetter's sadly all-too-brief career.

England were basically playing against themselves, facing the Lions as part of a brief stay in the Middle East ahead of a tour of Bangladesh. The main matches were two T20s involving Pakistan - which were shared 1-1 - as build up to the World T20 in West Indies. What happened in that warm-up fixture, coupled with the events in the following internationals, changed the course of England's planning for the World T20 - and were a large reason for a victorious campaign which remains their only global silverware.

Opening for the Lions were Kieswetter and Michael Lumb. Chasing 158, the Lions gave their senior counterparts a bloody nose by scampering home off the last ball. But it was the opening stand between Lumb and Kieswetter which was a game-changer, in every respect. The pair added 97 in 12 overs before Lumb retired hurt (he would later return to strike the winnings runs) while Kieswetter made 81 off 66 balls. It followed an impressive string of scores for Kieswetter against a Pakistan A bowling attack that included Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Hafeez and Abdur Rehman: in three matches he made 77 off 52 balls, 40 off 42 balls and 50 off 32.

In the 'full' England side the opening pair was Joe Denly and Jonathan Trott. The former made just 4 and the latter plodded to 24 off 27 balls. They went onto open in the two T20s against Pakistan in Dubai; Denly failed twice and Trott's 39 off 51 deliveries in the second match was a match-losing innings. Last minute or not, something needed to be done before the team reached West Indies.

The first two World T20s saw England blunder through the inaugural event in South Africa with an eclectic group of players, before being knocked out by West Indies on home soil in 2009 having managed victories against Pakistan and India. Expectations were low and the tournament in the Caribbean had not been at the forefront of England's winter campaigns which included a full tour of South Africa.

Before reaching West Indies, England had a tour of Bangladesh - under the captaincy of Alastair Cook for the first time as he deputised for the rested Andrew Strauss - and it was on that tour that Kieswetter's international career began. On the day England lost the second T20 against Pakistan he was added to the one-day squad for the Bangladesh trip. Three days later, opening the batting in a practice match against a Bangladesh Cricket Broad XI, he plundered 143 off 123 balls which cemented an ODI debut.

His first two innings in Mirpur were unconvincing, but in the third match in Chittagong scored a century which anchored England to a match-winning total. He was, in fact, outscored by Cook in the opening stand and batted 46 overs for his runs, contrary to the early reputation he had forged.

Craig Kieswetter in action for the Lions during the innings of 81 against England which his call-up © Getty Images

At the end of the Bangladesh tour Kieswetter was confirmed in England's World T20 squad as Andy Flower played his hunch - Lumb was also there; Denly, Trott and Matt Prior were left out. He would finish as the fourth-leading runscorer in the tournament with 222 runs at 33.71 alongside a strike-rate of 116.84.

He began with 26 off 14 balls on debut against West Indies, in Guyana, where England felt they came out on the wrong side of Duckworth-Lewis. For a short while it appeared their tournament may start and end at Providence, but rain prevented Ireland having a chance to chase down 121 or a revised target.

England - and Kieswetter - left Guyana with a sigh of relief, and never looked back. He made 25 off 27 balls against Pakistan, 41 off 42 against South Africa and 39 off 29 balls in the semi-final against Sri Lanka. But he saved his best for last.

In Barbados, the bowlers and fielders had done their job restricting Australia to 147 for 6; Kieswetter took a terrific catch to remove Brad Haddin having earlier palmed an edge off Shane Watson which Graeme Swann caught on the rebound. Maybe it was always meant to be his day?

Lumb went early in England's chase, but the top order had not taken a backward step during the tournament. What followed was the partnership that sealed the prize as Kieswetter and Kevin Pietersen added 111 in 12 overs. Kieswetter actually had a tricky start to his innings, reaching 5 off 10 deliveries, and was not above a run-a-ball until the ninth over of the innings as Pietersen did his thing at the other end.

But he took a liking to Watson and also dispatched Dirk Nannes, one-handed, over deep square leg although his dismissal was also eye-catching for the wrong reasons as he charged down the pitch outside leg stump against Mitchell Johnson, then offered no shot at a ball which took off stump. In a way, though, it was fitting for a player who did not do much my half measures. And that day he had more than done his job: 63 off 49 balls. A short while later Paul Collingwood scuffed one through the leg side for the victory. Kieswetter was named Man of the Match.

Kieswetter's international career did not really kick on from those heady few weeks in West Indies. His 46 ODIs did not bring another hundred to follow his one in Bangladesh and he went onto play 25 T20s. Last year he was briefly recalled to the T20 squad as cover in Bangladesh, and spoke about his desire to have another crack.

"My personal feeling is that I believe I have always been good enough and had the talent to play on the technical side of it," he said. "But I think being thrust in so young and having the success that we did at a team level and individually.

"For me it was a real struggle to come to terms with that and to mentally deal with the processes of that success. The past 12 months have been a really interesting experience. I have had to go away completely and look at where I can develop myself and my game."

Alas, it will never be known if another England chance would have come his way. But he has the photos, the memories and the medal of being a trophy winner with England. There aren't many players who can say that.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo

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