Kieswetter hails 'outstanding year'
World number ones England can today conclude their 2012 one-day international programme with a 13th win in 14 completed matches this year.
Among the ever-presents is wicketkeeper Craig Kieswetter, who set a new England record in their latest victory when he stumped three South Africa batsmen at Lord’s on Sunday.
His victims, and runs, were part of a six-wicket win there - and Kieswetter can reflect with some satisfaction at the job he and his team-mates have done so far to turn the disappointment of an opening NatWest Series defeat at the Ageas Bowl into a 2-1 advantage before today’s final day-night fixture at Trent Bridge.
If England are to complete their near perfect year in winning style, they will have to do so in the absence of team director Andy Flower - taking a short break with his family - and injured number three batsman Jonathan Trott.
Win, lose or tie today, though, they have done much this year to erase the memories of last autumn’s 5-0 defeat away to India.
“It has been an outstanding year for the team,” said Kieswetter.
“It’s been a real team effort. The side’s been more about people stepping up and helping the team win as a unit.
“We don’t feel as if we play as individuals; we play as a team and enjoy it.”
Kieswetter added: “I think the calmness that Alastair and Andy have shown in the team has helped the guys win a game of cricket.
“We have shown over the past 12 months we have confidence and a side good with characters.
“To lose the first game and win those games over the weekend showed good character and calmness.
“That’s a really encouraging sign for us. We’ll finish this series and move on to an exciting challenge next year.”
England and Kieswetter will undertake their next challenge without the assistance of Ian Bell, who has so expertly replaced Kevin Pietersen at the top of the order.
However, the right-hander remains surplus to requirements in Twenty20 cricket - the format in which England will take on South Africa from Saturday onwards, and then the world a week later in Sri Lanka when they defend their ICC crown.
Kieswetter is in no doubt about Bell’s worth to the ODI team, saying: “I think he’s been magnificent. He’s obviously scored runs - but the way he’s scored them and the class and intent has set the standard and confidence for us watching him bat.”
Trott, however quick his recovery, will be missing too in Twenty20. But before then, England must work out how to effectively replace their reliable number three in Nottingham.
“It’ll be a bit of a change,” said Kieswetter. “Jonathan’s been part of the side when we’ve won those games, but we have cover coming in. As disappointed as Trotty will be, it will be quite exciting for someone else to come in.”