Kieswetter adds to England options
Alastair Cook recognised the rapid emergence of Craig Kieswetter could cause healthy selection dilemmas in the near future after the new opening batsman blazed 143 on his first appearance for England.
The 22-year-old Somerset wicketkeeper-batsman was parachuted into the one-day squad for Bangladesh a day before arrival in Dhaka, after advancing his case with some startling performances for England Lions.
But he stole the show in England’s tour opener against a Bangladesh Cricket Board XI in Fatullah, hitting six sixes and 14 fours in his side’s total of 370 for seven in 50 overs.
Paul Collingwood also found top gear as he peppered the boundary on his way to a 74-ball 109 as England triumphed by 112 runs.
Whilst telling contributions from Collingwood in limited-overs cricket have arrived with pleasing regularity, newcomer Kieswetter appears to offer something new at the top of the innings.
“We knew he could play like that from the Lions games but to do so on your first official England game, even though it wasn’t a full international, is fantastic,” said Cook, captaining England in 50-over cricket for the first time.
“He didn’t look too flustered, took the right options at the right times and played a fantastic knock.
“He’s got a very good chance (of breaking into the first XI); he’s done very well to push his name forward.
“It’s also nice to have the left-hand, right-hand partnership. No decisions have been made but I’d be very surprised if he wasn’t there at the top of the order on Sunday.
“The way we started with Craig was fantastic and he’ll take the headlines. But Colly was fantastic as well.
“Every tour we set out to improve from where we are at the start of the tour and people coming in and doing it like he has helps us to do that.
“It’s going to make for some tough selection problems down the line, even on this tour, but the ultimate benefit of that is that the England side is improving.”
Cook also helped himself to a half-century, scoring 56 at better than a run a ball in a first-wicket stand of 127 with Kieswetter.
But there were some disappointments. Kevin Pietersen received a dubious lbw decision first ball and England toiled without success for extended periods in the middle of the BCB’s 258 for nine.
Of the bowlers only Graeme Swann, who returned 4-44, will be entirely satisfied.
In regular skipper Andrew Strauss’ absence, Cook is determined to keep performance levels high at all times.
“To put on 370 in new conditions was excellent,” he said. “But we can’t rest too easy, there are things to work on.
“Our fielding wasn’t as good as (the standards) we’ve been setting recently, on a tough outfield.
“That’s an area we can work on. If we were happy with what we’d done today in all areas then we wouldn’t improve as a side and we need to improve over the next couple of weeks.
“The lads are very happy with what they’ve achieved today but there is more to come.”
The new Brit Insurance 2010-11 official England Cricket Team kit will be available to pre order from April 1 via ecb.co.uk, and in store from April 29