Kieswetter available for England selection

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The Independent Online

Craig Kieswetter is fighting fit for England after the "friendly-fire" blow he suffered in Somerset's Champions League semi-final defeat.

Kieswetter's left forearm is badly bruised, but nothing more, after being hit by a powerful straight-drive from his batting partner Jos Buttler two days ago.

The England wicketkeeper is therefore available for selection and comes into contention to return to national colours in tomorrow's final warm-up match before the one-day international series against India.

Spinner Graeme Swann may sit out the fixture, the second of two day-nighters against a Hyderabad Cricket Association XI at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium.

Swann took little part in today's practice session and has a minor niggle in his ankle, but if he is missing from tomorrow's team, it will be in order to rest rather than because he is not considered fit to play.

Kieswetter, meanwhile, had a long net session and then a wicketkeeping drill, suggesting he will return to the top of the order alongside captain Alastair Cook and replace Jonny Bairstow behind the stumps.

"I feel fighting fit," he said. "I'm a bit of a late arrival with Somerset in the Champions League, but there's no better preparation than being out in the middle playing."

Kieswetter is back in the England fold at a time when there might be understandable tension between two of his team-mates following Swann's claim in his serialised autobiography that Kevin Pietersen was a poor choice to captain his adopted country, as he did for a short time in India three years ago.

There was no sign of any ill-feeling, however, as England practised in apparent good spirits this afternoon.

As for Kieswetter, in good batting form for the Sabres over the past two weeks, the prospect of transferring his well-being to the England cause is enticing.

"I'm feeling really good, got through the training session today, and I'm excited about this upcoming series," he added.

"Obviously the tempo is a little bit different, but there's no better method of preparation than being out there in the middle in a match environment.

"It's going to be a great series and one I'm looking forward to."

His arm is sufficiently recovered for it to become the subject of light-hearted recollection.

"It's probably the cleanest ball I've ever been struck with!" Kieswetter said. "It was a pity, but I'm fine."

His Champions League contributions for Somerset were not quite the manic, shot-a-ball pinch-hitting for which he has become known, and Kieswetter will be prepared to think on his feet for England and bat accordingly.

"Obviously, there's a lot been said about opening up and trying to get the side off to a steady start," he said.

"But whatever my role is in the team, I'll be trying my hardest to achieve that.

"The way Alastair Cook is playing at the moment is fantastic, and it seems the roles are reversed.

"I'll be doing whatever I can and trying to dovetail with the captain."

Kieswetter may well have attracted the attention of potential Indian Premier League franchises for the next round of auctions early next year, and could be about to keep them interested for the rest of the month.

But he insists he is in no hurry to fit in an IPL stint between club and country engagements next spring.

"At this stage of my career I'd rather be playing for Somerset," he added.

"Obviously, the IPL is a hell of a tournament to be playing in and playing against some of the IPL teams, we got a bit of a taste of what it is.

"It's really addictive. I'd love to be part of it at some stage of my career, but I haven't really thought about it in the short term."

The emergence of Bairstow, principally in front but also behind the stumps, means Kieswetter may have something to think about closer to home anyway.

Asked about Bairstow's potential for England, he said: "It certainly makes us a lot more dangerous as a side.

"It seems we're getting all bases covered, which is really good for English cricket.

"There's a lot of really good young wicketkeepers and obviously Jonny Bairstow has come through and certainly made a massive impact.

"It pushes me to train harder, to try to get better and to put out some more consistent performances."