November 28, 1987, Johannesburg, Transvaal
Right hand Bat
Right arm Offbreak
Millfield School, Bishops (Diocesan College)
Like a number of players before him, Craig Kieswetter, a hard-hitting wicketkeeper-batsman, chose England ahead of South Africa. He joined Somerset when he was 18 and made his international debut four years later, little more than a week after qualifying for England. He was briefly England's answer at the top of the order, helping them win the 2010 World Twenty20 and rise up the one-day rankings. But his form stuttered and he was dropped after the India tour in January 2013. He returned to the squad at the 2014 World T20 but failed to add to his 46 one-day internationals and 25 T20Is. During the subsequent English season, he suffered a sickening blow in the face, breaking his nose and damaging his eye socket while batting against Northants when a delivery from David Willey burst through his grille. It forced him into retirement in June 2015 as he conceded defeat to impaired vision and what he indicated was psychological trauma. "I feel I will never be mentally the player I was," he said.
He played for South Africa at the 2006 Under-19 World Cup before coming to Millfield School. He made his Somerset first-team debut in April 2007, scoring 69 not out off 58 balls and taking a catch his coach described as "world class". The batsmen-friendly conditions at Taunton aided his attacking instincts and in the 2009 English season, his last before he qualified, he scored 1,242 runs at a 59.14 in the County Championship as well as averaging almost 50 in one-day cricket.
The selectors, who had been watching for some time, rewarded him with a place on the Lions tour of UAE although Geoff Miller did caution that England "had to be careful about the number of South Africans in the side". Yet Kieswetter was undeterred and repeated his allegiance to England when Graeme Smith said he'd like to him to come back to South Africa.
The day after he became eligible for England in February 2010 he hit 81 against the senior side in Abu Dhabi, enough to earn a rapid elevation to the full squad for Bangladesh where his first innings of the tour was the small matter of 143. It was a promising sign. He made a century in his third ODI, against Bangladesh before playing a crucial role in delivering England's first ever global limited-overs success in the World Twenty20. Alongside Michael Lumb, Kieswetter powered England to aggressive starts, making 222 runs in the tournament, the fourth-highest tally, including a Man-of-the-Match winning 63 in the final against Australia.
But that proved his high water mark. In his next 18 T20s for England, Kieswetter made only two half-centuries and was eventually dropped for the crucial World T20 tie against Sri Lanka in 2012. Jos Buttler, his county team-mate, took his place and Buttler eventually usurped him from the ODI side too.
In 2013, a battle ensued between Kieswetter and Buttler for the gloves at Somerset but Kieswetter did enough to earn the No. 1 slot with over 500 runs in the Friends Life t20 - form that earned him a deal in the Australian Big Bash League - an average of 56.80 in the Yorkshire Bank 40 and 31.89 in first-class cricket. Buttler left for Lancashire at the end of the season.
Kieswetter initially thrived in the ODI side, averaging 51.00 in the five-match series at home to Sri Lanka in 2011 but in his next 23 innings made only two half-centuries. Struggling in India could be forgiven and he didn't get too many chances in subsequent series that England dominated against Pakistan and Australia as he was moved down the order. But with his wicketkeeping not the sharpest, the calls for change grew after a top score of 33 in four innings against South Africa. He went back to India in January 2013 but was dropped for the final two ODIs and was then left out of the tour to New Zealand under new one-day coach Ashley Giles.
He had initially hoped to fully recover from his injury, sustained when struck by a short delivery from Willey. He returned at the end of 2015 season and then went to play domestic T20 in South Africa, but struggled with the after-effects of the injury and announced he would not be playing the 2015 English season.
"I realise I am one of those lucky people who earns a living doing something they truly love," he said. "It's the game I fell in love with as a kid. A lot of players forget that perspective check."
Batting & Fielding