Interviews InterviewsRSS FeedFeeds

Craig Kieswetter

'Our orders were to go down blazing'

At the age of 22, and in barely three months as an England-qualified international, Craig Kieswetter has achieved a feat that eludes most cricketers in a lifetime

Andrew Miller

May 19, 2010

Comments: 56 | Text size: A | A

Craig Kieswetter hit some crunching shots off the front foot after the early loss of Michael Lumb, England v Australia, ICC World Twenty20 final, Barbados, May 16, 2010
'We were trying to hit every ball for six': England's tactics in the final were uncomplicated © AFP
Enlarge
Related Links
Players/Officials: Craig Kieswetter
Series/Tournaments: ICC World Twenty20
Teams: England

At the age of 22, and in barely three months as an England-qualified international, Craig Kieswetter has achieved a feat that eludes most cricketers in a lifetime. On Tuesday he returned to the County Ground in Taunton to a hero's welcome, with a World Cup-winner's medal in his pocket, and a Man of the Match trophy that will serve as a lasting memento of an incredible day in Barbados, in which his 63 from 49 balls guided England to a crushing seven-wicket over Australia in the final of the ICC World Twenty20.

"I'm trying to keep my feet on the ground but my head's still in the clouds," Kieswetter told Cricinfo. "I'm really buzzing about what we've done and I'm just trying to enjoy it. The reception I've received has been fantastic and pleasing, but I could never have imagined I'd be in this position so quickly. It's been a whirlwind, a rollercoaster with lots of emotional factors, but most of them have been really positive. I'm just really excited at the moment."

In terms of overs contested, Kieswetter's international career to date barely spans the length of a five-day Test match, but his role in the final alone contained enough thrills and spills to fill an entire mental scrapbook. He capped his tournament tally of 11 sixes with an incredible one-handed pick-up over fine leg off Dirk Nannes, and yet his final shot of the match was, incongruously, no shot at all, as he shouldered arms to a Mitchell Johnson yorker.

Meanwhile, in the field, he pulled off a wonderful leg-side diving catch to remove Brad Haddin and reduce Australia to 8 for 3 after 2.1 overs, but only after an earlier spill, from the third ball of the match, had been scooped up by Graeme Swann at slip, to set in motion an incredible chain of events.

"Knowing us, we like to have a bit of drama in finals, and it was definitely part of the plan for me to palm it up and for Swanny to pull out the big dive," Kieswetter joked. "But that moment really did go to show how much we wanted it, and the way he reacted showed how switched on to the game we were. The rest is obviously history, but it gave us momentum, and after that we hardly looked back."

While Kieswetter and Kevin Pietersen were together at the crease, England's eyes were firmly fixed on the finish line. The pair hurtled towards their victory target of 148 in a second-wicket stand of 111 in 68 balls. Rarely have any two England batsmen looked so confident and aggressive in a limited-overs partnership, and though they both fell in consecutive overs late in the innings, the intensity of their onslaught, particularly against the perceived weak link of the Australian attack, Shane Watson, ensured that the title was secured with a full three overs to spare.

"We were just trying to hit every ball for six, I think!" said Kieswetter. "But as much as the adrenalin was pumping, we were very aware tactically of where we wanted to be after six overs, after 10 overs, after 14 overs. We knew exactly where we were, and we knew there was a bit of an open door with Watson coming on to bowl, so we decided to attack him, and then we decided to attack everyone and finish the game as quickly as possible."

Kieswetter's only real regret came in the manner of his dismissal, with 27 still needed from 36 balls, as he gave himself too much room outside leg, and looked on helplessly as Johnson splattered his stumps. "I couldn't reach the ball in the end, and I was really disappointed," he said. "I really wanted to carry my bat and get a not-out, but fate's fate, and unfortunately for me I wasn't able to do that. Our gameplan all along was not to try not to leave it until the last two or three overs, and luckily for us it worked."

 
 
To be an opener in Twenty20 cricket is a high-risk environment. You have to be quite selfless, you have to play for the team, and that means that averages and wickets are superfluous to the team needs
 

And so was capped an ascent to prominence of jump-jet proportions. As recently as February 15, Kieswetter was not even eligible for England selection, due to his much-discussed South African background, a factor that has been the subject of more controversy than it perhaps merits, seeing as his mother is Scottish and he was educated at Millfields School in Somerset, the county he has represented since he was a teenager.

Nevertheless, only 24 hours after completing his residency qualification, Kieswetter produced a blazing innings of 81 from 66 balls - in partnership with his fellow unknown, Michael Lumb - as the England Lions upstaged the senior side in what had been intended as a low-key Twenty20 warm-up match in Abu Dhabi. The power of his performance set Andy Flower's mind whirring as to the possibilities it opened up, and three days later, Kieswetter had been parachuted into the 50-over squad for the tour of Bangladesh, with the clear intention of testing his mettle ahead of the Caribbean.

"I sensed what was happening, but I was just trying to enjoy the moment of being an international cricketer," said Kieswetter, who wasted no time in settling in with his new team-mates. He announced himself with a boundary-laden 143 against Bangladesh A in Fatullah, and then, in only his third ODI appearance, he became, at 22 years and 97 days, the second-youngest England batsman after David Gower to score a one-day hundred, as England wrapped up a 3-0 win in Chittagong.

However, the manner in which he scored that breakthrough century came as a surprise to those who had assumed that full throttle was the only pace at which he could bat. Having looked a touch frenetic in his first two appearances on a slow and low surface in Dhaka, he decided to allow himself time to build his final innings of the tour, and came up with a performance of unquestionable maturity. His first fifty runs required 80 deliveries, but his hundred arrived from a further 40, and by the time he was bowled for 107, Flower knew that he had unearthed a batsman with a temperament to match his free-flowing technique.

"I just took the view that I had got three games to prove myself, so I decided I was going to have some fun, and luckily for me, in the third game it paid off," said Kieswetter. "It's probably one of the most satisfactory hundreds that I've got, partly for being my first international hundred, but also for the fact it was a knock that no-one expected or knew that I could produce.

"To do that in only my third ODI, in those conditions, it proved to myself I am good enough, that I want to be here, and that I want to be the best I can be," he added. "It was obviously completely different to what Barbados would be like, but it was a performance that I'll always treasure, because it proved to me that I was able to adapt to different situations, and that is what makes an international cricketer."


Craig Kieswetter's hundred came from 120 balls, Bangladesh v England, 3rd ODI, Chittagong, March 5, 2010
Kieswetter's maiden ODI hundred in Bangladesh helped convince he belonged in international cricket, and allowed him to put the team first in the Caribbean © Getty Images
Enlarge

Crucially, that innings also instilled in Kieswetter the confidence he needed to carry out a very definitive gameplan, because once the team touched down in the Caribbean, there would be no leeway for personal ambition. From first ball to last, an avoidance of loitering was one of the key aspects of England's trophy-winning campaign, and with Lumb now installed alongside his former Lions team-mate at the top of the order, the England rookies took it upon themselves to set the agenda with a spate of high-octane cameos.

"Go down blazing, those were our orders, without a doubt," said Kieswetter. "To be an opener in Twenty20 cricket is a high-risk environment. You have to be quite selfless, you have to play for the team, and that means that averages and wickets are superfluous to the team needs. But Michael and I were so thrilled to be part of the set-up, because the dressing-room environment was so far from what you'd expect. Everyone was looking to move the team forward, and that made it really easy for us to slip into the roles we needed to play, but also the roles we enjoy playing."

"Even before the tournament started we were quietly confident that we could achieve success, because had a squad in which all the players knew their roles and what they needed to do to help the team achieve," he said. "A player like Luke Wright, who didn't get to bowl all tournament but then had to bowl an over in the final, was a testament to exactly how much hard work had gone into the team, and how much they wanted to play together."

In conventional terms, Lumb and Kieswetter's statistics ended up being fairly run-of-the-mill - 359 runs between them in the tournament at an average of 25.64, with Kieswetter's 63 against Australia being their only half-century in 14 visits to the crease. However, they required just 287 balls to amass that tally, and the speed of their scoring provided the likes of Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan the perfect platform from which to dominate the middle overs.

"The fact that both of us were pretty unknown quantities in international cricket gave us both the mentality of being allowed to be free and go out and express ourselves," said Kieswetter. "Also, the fact that we get along very well off the field helped us to click on the field, and get the team off to some really positive starts. But for both of us, we were just really chuffed to be there and to be part of a really addictive environment. We just wanted to enjoy the experience while we were there."

"Enjoyment" isn't a word that has been associated with many England campaigns in ICC events, least of all the World Twenty20, in which the team flopped in both 2007 and 2009. But while Kieswetter's breezy innocence played a significant role in cultivating a new upbeat demeanour, he recognised that the real credit for the team's transformation from also-rans to winners lay with the man who had taken his licks and learnt his lessons from leading the side in the two previous tournaments.

"I was obviously lucky enough to get runs and hit sixes and express myself, but a lot of that was down to the environment that Paul Collingwood managed to create, along with Andy [Flower]," he said. "Colly, he's our leader, everyone in the squad fully backs him, and respects and trusts him, and when we won, it was a real sense of relief, and a justification of the hard work he had put in, and all the abuse that he'd taken in previous World Cups. To be able to achieve that and work with the pressure that he did, we were really proud of him."

After all that he's achieved in the past few weeks, it's incredible to think that Kieswetter has yet to play in front of an English international audience. With no T20Is scheduled until September, it's not immediately obvious when that home debut will come, seeing as Matt Prior is still the man in possession in 50-over and Test cricket. But Kieswetter has already displaced his rival in one format, and already his eyes are drifting towards the prize that is glinting on the horizon this winter.

"I'd love to be on that plane to Australia," he said. "Any English cricketer would love to be heading out for the Ashes, because that has to be the pinnacle for Test cricket. But right now, I have to try not to look too far ahead. Matt's got the gloves, so for me, it's about training hard, putting in my hard graft and aiming for consistent performances for Somerset. I'll be taking each day as it comes, and trying to enjoy myself along the way as well."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

RSS Feeds: Andrew Miller

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (May 23, 2010, 9:51 GMT)

As if Kevin Pietersen is not "good enough" for the team having people like Duminy and the other Petersen.

Posted by D.S.A on (May 23, 2010, 9:44 GMT)

@bobmartin: You say that I'm talking rubbish?...it's you that comparing cricket to surgery! CRICKET TO A LIFE AND DEATH SITUATION! Are you serious? It's not a realistic comparison. by the way, you stated in your example that the surgeon was a Nigerian born person, yet he was unqualified...How can he be an unqualified surgeon? If that's commonplace in Nigeria, then fair enough but I'm from England, so I doubt that an unqualified surgeon exists here as you have to be QUALIFIED via an education to be a surgeon...I'd have thought that would be the case in most countries but apparently not. As a result, if he or she were the only person available, then yes I concur, otherwise no, I would somehow refuse. Forget about this example, the point I'm making is that Lumb, Strauss, Pietersen and Kieswetter would have gladly played for South Africa had they all been given the opportunity but they weren't, so they jumped ship to a country where they would accept them, and Morgan is still a sellout!

Posted by   on (May 23, 2010, 6:27 GMT)

All the so called "South African" players including Graeme Smith himself can be dated back to England. Just a few generations in South Africa, but their roots are still English. Now the SA fans out of their inferiority complex says of "imported players" in England. Maybe many of them do not feel that they originally belong to South Africa.

Posted by bobmartin on (May 22, 2010, 16:47 GMT)

D.S.A. you talk rubbish.. Just to give an example... You have a heart attack and need by-pass surgery..The surgeon who comes to your bedside to tell you what he is going to be doing to you during the operation tomorrow is a Nigerian, born and bred in another country. I wonder if you'd say he's not qualified and refuse the operation. It happened to me 10 years ago .. and I didn't.. Perhaps that's why I'm less dogmatic about someone who has been born and bred in another country plying his trade in Britain. If he's qualified.. good luck to him.

Posted by srini1088 on (May 21, 2010, 10:13 GMT)

pity south africa...they have lost yet another quality player to England...and he could ve possibly replaced boucher in odis and t20s....but here he is playin 4 england....first saw him in one of the domestic t20s playin for somerset...he smashed the bowlin along with trescothic and he showed he s much more than just a county cricketer

Posted by D.S.A on (May 21, 2010, 9:22 GMT)

HAHA. Those of you who are convinced that this is a great English victory must be delusional. It's funny how "qualified" English batsmen have led England to their 1st successful tournament, but when the ACTUAL Englishmen were playing (that being those who were born here or started and continued playing cricket here from a young age), there was no success. There's a reason why the ECB are funding more money into grassroots cricket...WORK IT OUT IF YOU'RE SMART ENOUGH! (if you still don't know, look at the article and discussion...) Nonetheless, the "England" team is a joke and will continue to be a joke while 4 out of the top 5 batsmen are players who don't have a right to be playing for England because they couldn't make it in their original country's team, or in Morgan's case, selling out his country for more exposure and money. THIS, SOON TO BE, WORLD XI QUALIFIED TEAM IS A COMPLETE JOKE!

Posted by KepplerMyMan on (May 21, 2010, 3:18 GMT)

I am glad England won the 20/20, even though they had a multinational team. Maybe SA can look at the way England choose their team, ON MERIT, and not on a Racist Quota system. I can bet my bottom dollar that even with all the talent SA has that they will never amount too much until they remove politics from sport. Good on you England

Posted by bobmartin on (May 20, 2010, 15:48 GMT)

There are two distinct issues here.. Players born overseas playing for England and Kolpak players in county cricket. This article explains the difference between the two. http://www.ecb.co.uk/ecb/publications/kolpak-ruling,499,BP.html Kolpak players came here as a result of EU legislation. Simply put, it allowed counties to employ foreign players without contravening the ECB's overseas player quota. It's the counties exploiting this loophole which has led to the current situation where foreign players are keeping England qualified players out of the first class game. However, the EU have now reviewed the situation and the ECB can in future limit their numbers. In respect of players born overseas playing for England, the qualifying regulations are an ICC requirement.

Posted by Sutekh35 on (May 20, 2010, 15:03 GMT)

Just to mention that my county Glamorgan has just gone top of the 2nd division championship, despite only having one bona fide overseas player, Mark Cosgrove. Okay, Jim Allenby is also Australian but his case is totally different. What worries me slightly is when a county side packs its team with retired test cricketers from other countries, allowed to play under the Kolpak ruling. This does have an effect on the nurturing of local talent, and is detrimental to the long term future of the England team. Okay, I will conceed that there is a strong arguement that these players do bring the crowds in, but at what cost? Just to mention England's triumphagain. The reason I mentioned foreign born players who played for England in the past, in my previous post, is that it has never been such a big issue before, well not with Australia anyway. If they carry on moaning too much they might be at risk of being thought of as poor losers. As mentioned by others, Englands bowlers were not from SA

Posted by Naren on (May 20, 2010, 14:37 GMT)

We are not trying to abuse England on their deserving victory. We are criticizing the policy. Just because somebody is good you cannot leapfrog them over several other cricketers in the country. Kieswetter has barely played county cricket for long, same with Morgan. How can you select them ahead of so many other english cricketers? It is not fair, the country will stop producing good ones and there will be 11 south africans playing in the team.

Comments have now been closed for this article

FeedbackTop
Email Feedback Print
Share
E-mail
Feedback
Print
Andrew MillerClose
Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007

Hangovers and headaches

2014 in review: Embarrassing defeats, a beleaguered captain, a bitter former star, alienating administrators - England's year was gloomy. By George Dobell

Ten years later

Gallery: Efforts by Surrey have helped transform a coastal village in Sri Lanka devastated by the December 26 tsunami

    'We did not drop a single catch in 1971'

Couch Talk: Former India captain Ajit Wadekar recalls the dream tours of West Indies and England, and coaching India

Sachin to bat for life, Lara for the joy of batting

Modern Masters: Rahul Dravid and Sanjay Manjrekar discuss the impact of Lara's batting

I bowled to them, look where they are now

Roger Sawh: Ever get the feeling you're sharing in the success of a top-level cricketer you may have played with growing up?

News | Features Last 7 days

Watson's merry-go-round decade

In January 2005, Shane Watson made his Test debut. What does he have to show for a decade in the game?

Why punish the West Indies players when the administration is to blame?

As ever, the West Indies board has taken the short-term view and removed supposedly troublesome players instead of recognising its own incompetence

Power to Smithy, trouble for Dhoni

Australia's new captain admirably turned things around for his side in Brisbane, leading in more departments than one

Gilchrist's conscientious moment

In the semi-final against Sri Lanka in 2003, Adam Gilchrist walked back to the pavilion despite being given not out by the on-field umpire

Kicking, screaming, scrapping India

India are losing, but they are making Australia win. They are losing, but they are aggressive. They are attacking, until there is nothing left to attack. One shot, one bouncer and one sentence at a time

News | Features Last 7 days