Kies opens up
Craig Kieswetter talks to Sky Sports about his new role in the 50-over team, becoming more consistent with bat and gloves and why hopes are high England can retain their Twenty20 crown...
By Rob Lancaster - Tweet me: @SkySportsLanny
Last Updated: 09/08/12 3:00pm
It doesn't matter if he's at the top, middle or even the bottom of the order, Craig Kieswetter just wants to be playing for England.
The Somerset wicketkeeper-batsman may only be 24 but he has already had plenty of highs in his international career, none more so than playing a starring role in the side that won the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean two years ago.
This year he is almost certain to be an integral part of the squad that attempts to defend England's solitary tournament success in one-day cricket, though it has not been all plain sailing in the time since he hit a stylish 63 in Barbados.
South African-born Kieswetter fell out of the 50-over team for just under a year, a period that saw him miss out on a World Cup. It also, however, gave him a chance to step out of the limelight and reflect on what had happened to him in the space of 18 months, ever since he had been fast-tracked in for a short tour of Bangladesh just days after completing his qualification period.
"There's obviously pressure that comes externally, but there is pressure from within as well," he told Sky Sports.
"I came in with a bang and got a hundred in my third ODI, then I was man of the match in the Twenty20 final, and I think I put too much pressure on myself.
"Inevitably that made my performances less consistent, which is not what you want as a cricketer.
"I had eight or nine months out of the side and for me that was big. I went away with the (England) Lions, got to work really hard on aspects of my game, and now I feel I've come back a better player.
"It was also about growing up. At 24 I'm still a young adult but I've been around a bit and understand how my game works."
Now Kieswetter is on the rise again and fast. He has been restored as England's first choice gloveman in one-day action while he has also switched to No.6 in the order, something he has quickly embraced.
"To be honest, it's been quite nice (moving down the order)," he admitted.
"I do my 50 overs of keeping then put my feet up, have a cup of tea and then watch the top order bat, which is pretty perfect really.
"As I've said before, I want to be playing games of cricket for England, I want to help them win. If that means I bat six, open, or bat 10 or wherever, I'm prepared to do that because I like to see myself as a team player.
"Wherever (one-day captain) Alastair Cook and (coach) Andy Flower want me to bat I'm prepared to do that.
"The role for me and 'Morgs' (Eoin Morgan) at five and six is to try and finish off the last 15 overs, which we've identified as quite a big part of the game.
"'Morgs' has revolutionised that role with the way that he plays. It's taken a lot of pressure off of the rest of us, but hopefully I can start to put in performances like he has to bump us up to pretty decent totals."
In truth, Kieswetter hasn't had much chance so far to stamp his mark in the middle of the line-up.
Twice during the winter against Pakistan he wasn't required and during the recent series against Australia on home turf he only had one real opportunity to bat, making 25 in the opening contest.
"I haven't really felt out of form all throughout the season," he said, something that will hardly come as a surprise considering he averages over 50 in first-class cricket this year for his county.
"I've got a lot of starts and small contributions, and then when I was away with England for the one-day series against Australia I didn't really have to bat.
"I've never felt like I have been out of form, just that I haven't had many opportunities to have a bat."
The former Millfield School pupil did, though, get a chance to show off his wicketkeeping skills against the Australians, including clinging on to a stunning catch at Lord's that saw the back of the dangerous David Warner during the tourists' unsuccessful run chase.
He admits his work behind the stumps has "come a long way" since he first did the job at the top level, adding: "I was really pleased (in the series against Australia).
"It's come on a long way from when I first made my debut two or three years ago. It's been a lot of hard work with Bruce French and it's starting to come off.
"I'm really happy at 24 with the development of my wicketkeeping and batting.
"I'm feeling confident in my abilities as a cricketer. When I first started at 21 it was all fresh and new, I was a bit naïve with how the game works. Now I've been around for a while and know how to put more consistent performances in."
The chance to face South Africa at the end of the summer will perhaps have extra significance for a man born in Johannesburg, but Kieswetter insists it is "the same as any international series".
Hot on the heels of the ODIs with the Proteas comes the defence of England's T20 crown and even without the likely absence of Kevin Pietersen, hopes are high in skipper Stuart Broad's squad that they can maintain their grip on the trophy.
"We've had some great results. We beat Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, which was really tough cricket, and we chased down a big total against the West Indies when Alex Hales got 99," Kieswetter stated with the same type of authority he shows when pulling a short ball away to the square leg boundary.
"It shows that this is a side brimming with confidence and who backs each other.
"On the subcontinent it's going to be ram-packed with support and we're quite confident we can retain our title.
"The Twenty20 World Cup isn't that long - about two or three weeks - and we started poorly last time. We lost to the West Indies and then beat Ireland on the Duckworth-Lewis system, and from there we realised we had nothing to lose really.
"We won games, built momentum, and in a tournament that short when you get on a winning roll it's hard to stop a side like that."
One thing is for certain - Kieswetter will once again play a pivotal role, whether it be with the gloves on or with bat in hand. Expect him to make an impact.
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