Kieswetter catches Collingwood's eye

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Paul Collingwood faced the media ahead of the first T20 with Pakistan

Paul Collingwood admits to becoming the newest member of the Craig Kieswetter fan club - but warned him to expect a battle to force his way into the England side.

Kieswetter’s rapid 81 propelled England Lions to a five-wicket win over the senior side in a Twenty20 warm-up contest yesterday, while further enhancing his glowing reputation.

The South Africa-born wicketkeeper-batsman has been in sensational form for the Lions in the United Arab Emirates, and has been widely tipped to win international honours in the near future after recently qualifying for England.

Craig Kieswetter

Craig Kieswetter makes the most of his opportunity to impress with a hard-hitting 81 for the Lions against the senior side

Yesterday’s 66-ball innings, which contained nine fours and two sixes, provided Collingwood with a memorable first sighting, and the England Twenty20 captain was fulsome in his praise of the 22-year-old.

“I’ve never seen him play at all - never met him or anything - so it was the first time I’ve come across him,” said Collingwood.

“Obviously I was very impressed with how hard he hit the ball. I wouldn’t say he took us by surprise because we’ve heard a lot about him but he’s certainly a guy who’s very confident.

“It’s not just half-volleys he’s hitting - it’s good-length balls - and he’s got a good temperament too.

“At the moment he hasn’t got the chance to do that at international level but in the future maybe he will. He’s certainly got a lot of talent.”

Collingwood, however, was keen to remind onlookers that Matt Prior, the man in possession of the England wicketkeeping gloves, remains a key member of the side.

Prior served a reminder of his talent with the bat with 33 off just 22 deliveries yesterday to help England recover from 68 for five, before Luke Wright led a late-innings assault with a 21-ball unbeaten 42.

“We have to remember what Matt Prior has done for this team,” stressed Collingwood. “In yesterday’s match he was the one who actually changed the momentum of the game after we were in a bit of strife after 10 overs.

“Kieswetter has done exceptionally well when he’s got his chance but we’ve got to understand what Matt Prior has done for this team as well.”

Craig Kieswetter & Matt Prior

Kieswetter watches Matt Prior, the man in possession of the England wicketkeeping gloves, restore stability to the innings

As impressed as Collingwood was by Kieswetter’s muscular contribution, he dismissed any notion that the Somerset player could be drafted into the team for tomorrow’s opening Twenty20 international against Pakistan in Dubai.

“We’ve pretty much got the side set in our minds and we’ve got a squad that is here that we’ll choose from,” Collingwood said.

“All the guys yesterday had a certain pressure to perform well and he certainly did that, but there is no temptation to bring him in for tomorrow’s game.

“We will have to be at the top of our game to beat them but we believe we’ve got the skills and the players here.”

The current opening partnership of choice is Joe Denly and Jonathan Trott, and, though they put on just five yesterday, Collingwood promised they would be given a chance to forge an alliance ahead of the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean at the end of April.

“You’ve got to back the guys and give them enough time to understand each other’s games for them to build and perform well,” he said.

“We’ve chopped and changed around a lot at the top of the order in the past but we believe we’ve got two guys who can score runs quickly.”

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