The Kolpak debate November 13, 2009

Craig Kieswetter reiterates England desire

Cricinfo staff

Craig Kieswetter, the Somerset wicketkeeper-batsman, has reiterated his commitment to play for England after Graeme Smith said he wanted to bring him back to his native South Africa.

"It is very flattering to hear someone of Graeme Smith's stature speak so highly of me, but I remain committed to playing international cricket for England and that remains my ambition," Kieswetter said.

Brian Rose, Somerset's director of cricket, added: "He's a very exciting prospect and everyone at Somerset, from the players to the members and the supporters, will be delighted he remains committed to helping Somerset achieve further success and hopefully go on to play for England."

Kieswetter, the son of an Afrikaner father and Scottish mother, was recently fast-tracked into the England performance squad. He was chosen as a Grade B player and identified as between one and three years away from the top level. His form for Somerset in the English season has prompted comparisons with Kevin Pietersen but Kieswetter has said he would have a better idea of where he stood in the England pecking order once he qualified in February.

"Yes, I would like to have him back. It's up to him but he is certainly someone we'd like back," said Smith. "In the domestic game we have started to get a lot of players back and it's only strengthening our system. We want it to be the ultimate to play for South Africa.

"It is up to him [Kieswetter]. The challenge is to get him back into our franchise system first, but he is certainly someone we have seen and would like to get back into the system."

The issue of South Africans playing in England as Kolpaks has long been a thorny issue and the returning home of several South Africans, having honed their game in county cricket, has only added to the debate. "It's surprising at times, I have to admit, when players who've played in England for a long time come back to play for South Africa," said Paul Collingwood, England's one-day captain.

Two such players are Ryan McLaren and Charl Langeveldt, who renounced their Kolpak status to play for South Africa. Smith has welcomed their decision, one that Geoff Miller, the England national selector, believed to be due to South Africa's success as a team and the advent of lucrative Twenty20 leagues. "For Ryan and the others to play in England and face different challenges . . . it is almost like an academy," he said. "Players who go there grow and come back into our system as hopefully better players. It is only strengthening our system."