Kieswetter the latest Cape crusader to come to England's rescue

South African-born batsman shone on debut yesterday but his success is not all good news for the ECB

Another England cricket team, another player made in South Africa. Craig Kieswetter, the latest of the vintage, made a blistering 143 yesterday against a Bangladesh Cricket Board XI in his first match for England. The warm-up fixture was not an international, but the nature of his performance suggests there will be plenty of those to come.

Kieswetter, born in Johannesburg and schooled largely in Cape Town, was not in the squad until four days ago. This was partly because he became eligible for selection only on 17 February, and partly because he strung together a sequence of innings which would have been difficult for any selection panel to ignore. Picked for England Lions on their brief sojourn in the United Arab Emirates earlier in the month, he made scores of 77, 40no, 50 and 81, the latter against England.

That form continued yesterday and although he was dropped four times, the conviction which suffuses his approach was patent. The innings lasted 123 balls and contained 13 fours and six sixes. He shared stands of 127 with his captain, Alastair Cook, for the first wickets and of 125 with his vice-captain, Paul Collingwood, whose 109 took only 73 balls. So he knows how to impress those who count, too.

England, who scored 370 for seven in their 50 overs at the Khan Shaheb Osman Ali Stadium, won by 112 runs. The bowling was not quite as impressive, though Graeme Swann took 4 for 44.

Potentially prodigious talent though he may be, Kieswetter seems merely to confirm the suspicion that England's selectors, who once, it is said, stood at the top of northern pits so they could shout down for fast bowlers, may as well now spend their time camped out on the high veld or at the foot of Table Mountain, looking for likely lads with dual passports.

Kieswetter, who is also a wicketkeeper though he did not fill that role yesterday, has joined Kevin Pietersen and Jonathan Trott in the current England squad as players who were born and educated largely in South Africa. Like Trott he played for South Africa under-19s. But Geoff Miller, the National Selector, conceded when the Lions squad was announced that there had to be a limit to the number of South African players that England could import. Kieswetter, whose mother is British, came to England as an 18-year-old to finish his education at Millfield. If Somerset did not know of him before, they soon did.

The county's chief executive, Richard Gould, said yesterday: "Millfield and Somerset can claim a lot of the credit. As soon as he came over here he was looked after and made to feel wanted. He immediately felt everyone was going to help him become the best cricketer he possibly could. Perhaps he hadn't experienced that before. Right from the off he wanted to play cricket for England."

Kieswetter's family links meant that he had spent long holidays in the United Kingdom before he arrived at Millfield. To call him English, however, would be a stretch, not least because his mum, Belinda, hails from Edinburgh. But when South Africa came calling late last year he resisted their overtures.

Graeme Smith, South Africa's captain, is clearly fed up with his compatriots leaving for what he sees as the English counties' shilling. Naming Kieswetter as a target, he said that money was no longer such an issue because South African players now make a decent amount.

But Kieswetter, ensconced at Taunton by now – his home is opposite the county ground – was unmoved. For whatever reasons, he had thrown in his lot with England and was sticking by it. He has protested his love of the old country, however, as doubtless he must continue to do in the next few years.

"Being born with both passports put me in a fortunate position," Kieswetter said on the eve of his debut. "I've always loved the country, the culture, the people. I moved over four years ago and it's never been a concern of mine to move back."

There could be no finer words were he to be invited to take a test of Englishness sometime in the future, and if he scores runs as he has been doing the unmistakeable origins of his accent may yet be forgotten. For Somerset, he has made inexorable progress: 337 championship and 410 limited-over runs in his first season, 524 and 702 in 2008.

"I would dispute that he learned his cricket in South Africa," said Gould. "A lot of cricketers represent their country at under-19 level and then don't go on. Millfield made a great effort with him. When he registered as a cricketer in England he had to sign an affidavit that he would not play cricket elsewhere, and that he has kept to.

"He is confident and self-assured but he is an extremely well-balanced and well-rounded individual. He has had the advantage of a solid background and I shouldn't think because of the astonishing form he has shown in the past fortnight he will expect it simply to continue like that."

Kieswetter has presented England with a conundrum they might say they like but could have done without. Do they open the one-day batting with him and use him as wicketkeeper? Whither Prior, whither the 13 opening partnerships already used since the last World Cup? When will the next South African knock on the door?

News
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
people70-year-old was most famous for 'You are So Beautiful'
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballLatest score and Twitter updates
Life and Style
fashionOne man takes the hipster trend to the next level
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'