Flower underlines Lions' incentive
Andy Flower spoke ahead of T20 matches with England Lions and Pakistan
Andy Flower expects Craig Kieswetter to lead the charge of England Lions players hoping to break into the senior squad for the ICC World Twenty20.
Johannesburg-born Kieswetter has long been identified as an international player in the making and was fast-tracked into the Performance Programme and Lions set-up before his England qualification period was complete.
The 22-year-old’s England eligibility is expected to be formalised tomorrow and he gets a chance to impress Flower just a day later as the reserve side are pitted against their colleagues in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Flower has already been impressed by the Somerset wicketkeeper-batsman, who has compiled scores of 31, 40 not out and 77no in wins over Pakistan A and United Arab Emirates A since touching down in the Gulf.
Team director Flower believes Kieswetter will be one of a number of players looking to make an impression before England’s party for the Caribbean tournament is finalised.
“Craig Kieswetter has had a really good start,” said Flower. “He’s got runs in all three of his (Lions) games so far, so Wednesday is a chance for him to impress.
“I think he qualifies tomorrow for England and, of course, he’ll be excited about that challenge.
“I’ve seen a little bit of him. I don’t know much about him but it sounds as though he is quite an exciting player.
“Because we don’t play that much Twenty20 cricket I wouldn’t say our side is that settled so there are one of two places up for grabs.
“All of the Lions are under consideration and, quite rightly, they’ll be very hungry to press forward their case for selection.
“I’ve spoken to David Parsons, who is in charge of that group, and it’s been nice to see them play such powerful cricket.
“It is a good opportunity for them to impress, a good opportunity for them to challenge us so they’ll all be quite excited.
“It’s our first game of the tour so they’ll be a little more battle-hardened considering they’ve already played three competitive games.”
Kevin Pietersen is one player sure to feature in the West Indies and Flower has backed the batsman to return to his brutish best in the coming weeks.
England have back-to-back Twenty20 internationals against world champions Pakistan after their Lions date, followed by a Test and one-day international tour of Bangladesh.
Having been forced out of last summer’s Ashes win mid-series with an Achilles complaint, Pietersen was some way short of peak form on the recent trip to his native South Africa - a trend Flower does not expect to continue.
“He’s very hungry, he had quite a chunk of time out of international cricket and he’s come back hungry,” said Flower.
“Things didn’t go perfectly well for him in South Africa but he did make some contributions, especially at the start of the series.
“It was a difficult challenge for him to come back from playing no cricket to facing the South African attack on sporty wickets. It was difficult for him.
“This is an opportunity for him to get some serious time in the middle and for him to start contributing again in his dominant way in England victories.”
Flower, meanwhile, confirmed that the application process for the vacant ECB fast bowling coach’s job had begun and interviews are expected to take place following the side’s return to England next month.
Ottis Gibson was the previous incumbent but left the post to take charge of West Indies.
Flower expects the calibre of interviewee to be high and revealed he had already identified potential targets.
“I’ve got a fairly open mind and I’m sure we’ll get some good candidates but I’ve also got a couple of ideas as to who might fit into our coaching team,” said the Zimbabwean.
Gibson’s former job is one of two vacancies which need to be filled by England, with a vice-captain for the Bangladesh trip being the other.
Alastair Cook has already said he is keen to have a right-hand man for his first tour at the helm and Flower has agreed.
Flower said: “Alastair and I have discussed it. I think we will have a vice-captain at the start of the Bangladesh tour.
“We have a clear idea who it might be; I don’t think it is a very difficult decision.”