Competition for place spurs Kieswetter on
England limited-overs wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter has insisted that the emergence of young talent in the England set-up has spurred him on to solidify his position with the gloves. Both Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow have potential as wicketkeeper-batsmen but Kieswetter is hoping to use the India series to ease the pressure on his place with consistent performances.
"There's obviously a lot of young wicketkeepers," said Kieswetter. "Johnny Bairstow has come through, and has sent a message. It pushed me to train harder, get better and put up some more consistent performances."
England arrived in India a full 10 days ahead of the start of their one-day series, although Kieswetter has only recently linked up with the squad after completing his duties with Somerset at the Champions League T20. He suggested his time with the county in India, which included a load-bearing half-century in the 12-run win over Warriors in Bangalore, had provided good preparation for the task of opening the batting in ODIs, despite the differences in format.
"I feel fighting fit this time of year," he said. "Bit of a late arrival, playing with Somerset in the Champions League, but there is no better preparation than playing out in the middle. I'm feeling really good. Being in the middle is great preparation. The tempo may have been a little different, but there is no better method than being out there, playing cricket in match environment."
Kieswetter was recalled to England's squad ahead of the ODIs against Sri Lanka at home this summer, after returns of 121 runs in eight innings against Australia and Bangladesh had brought the axe, first from the one-day team and then from the Twenty20 side.
He had 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. He is hoping to build on these early successes now that he's been handed a second extended run in the side.
"I was in the side, out again, back again. I learned a lot while I was out. Being back in the side is great. It's where I want to be, where I want to belong. Obviously I want to play on the world stage.
"My performances have been better, a bit tighter probably. Hopefully I can confirm that spot in the next five ODIs. Every game I play for England I want to do the best I can. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but there is no lack of effort."
Kieswetter will continue to share a dressing room with Buttler, his team-mate at Somerset who, although only officially part of England's Twenty20 squad, will nevertheless remain with the team during the one-day series, having stayed in India after Somerset flew home.
"For any player to be involved in the set-up at the moment, with how the squad is and how the side are performing, is a fantastic learning experience," Kieswetter said of Buttler's involvement. "I am sure he will learn a lot and will be ready for the Twenty20."
Buttler was responsible for a minor injury scare, however, as a fierce straight drive during Somerset's semi-final against Mumbai Indians smacked into the non-striker Kieswetter's forearm. The injury has since been assessed, and Kieswetter dismissed it as nothing more than a bruise.
"It's just a bruise, should be fine," he said. "Jos is quite a bottom-handed player, he usually mows it through midwicket. Straight on I thought was safest place to stand. But I was proved wrong."