Four days after qualifying to play for England, Craig Kieswetter has been selected for the one-day squad to play in Bangladesh. He joined the party yesterday on their flight from Dubai where on Saturday they lost the second of two Twenty20 matches to Pakistan to leave the series level at 1-1.
Thus, Kieswetter becomes the third member of England's squad to have been born in South Africa and effectively learned all his cricket there.
He is a powerhouse of a batsman who in his own way slugs from the hip as he has shown in three blazing summers for Somerset. As a wicketkeeper he has been less proficient but that will not stop England's present incumbent, Matt Prior, also born in South Africa but who left at 12, looking over his shoulder. Perhaps the England selectors had it in mind all along to include Kieswetter but felt the need to observe the propriety of his actually being qualified before declaring their hand. If not, Kieswetter forced it by playing so boldly for England Lions on their recent sojourn in the United Arab Emirates and when he scored 81 for them in a Twenty20 warm-up against England last week he probably sealed the deal.
Kieswetter was educated briefly at Millfield School as an 18-year-old after playing for South Africa in the Under-19 World Cup and decided shortly after that he wished to play in England. Attempts by South Africa to lure him back have failed. England's Twenty20 captain, Paul Collingwood, said of him yesterday: "The way he played against us, and the way he played for the Lions against Pakistan A has opened everyone's eyes and he deserves inclusion into the senior squads. He's an exciting player and he hits the ball extremely hard, which is great for one-day and Twenty20 cricket. He deserves his chance."
Kieswetter has probably not been taken along for the ride to Dhaka but there is no immediate batting place for him. As an opener in one-day games he is not about to replace either Alastair Cook, the side's new captain or his compatriot, Jonathan Trott, who has hardly been given an opportunity.
It will be fascinating to see what role England have in mind for Kieswetter, especially as they can still find no place in the one-day party for a player as accomplished and stylish as Ian Bell. Prior, whose Test place is secure and in whom England have invested large amounts of time and faith, knows he had better start performing soon in the limited overs format or else.
There must be a suspicion that Kieswetter is already earmarked as an opening batsman in the World Twenty20. Joe Denly failed again there in Saturday's defeat and is unlikely to be offered many more opportunities.
England recovered to make 148 for six with a seemingly restored Kevin Pietersen contributing an exciting innings of 62. The match was under control for most of Pakistan's innings until Abdul Razzaq's 46 from 18 balls which discomposed England who were defeated with six balls left.Reuse content