Keeping Kieswetter

After another unsuccessful tour of India, England’s cricketers once again made their wicket keeping dilemma’s the scape-goat for their failures. analyses why dropping Craig Kieswetter was a poor decision from the England management

Kieswetter did not deserve to be dropped by the England management. Image: rachelsimmo via flickr Creative Commons

Kieswetter did not deserve to be dropped by the England management. Image: rachelsimmo via flickr Creative Commons

As England finish yet another unsuccessful one day series in India, the blame for their failures has again been laid at the feet of a wicket keeper. Craig Kieswetter faces what can only be a lengthy spell away from international cricket as he trudges back to Somerset to hone his skills and wait for Jos Buttler to inevitably be deemed as not suited to the role.

I wholeheartedly believe this is a mistake. England have been rough on the young Somerset keeper, they’ve zig-zagged him up and down the order in both the 20 over and 50 over game, changing his position within the team dramatically. He began as he played for a Somerset, as an opening batsman (in the shorter form anyway) and ended up as a finisher, a role for which he was systematically unable to fulfil due to England’s frequent top order collapses.

It was decided that he was not suited to the role of building an innings, so they moved him down the order to fully utilise his big hitting capabilities. Unfortunately, England have regularly not been in the position this series to actually use a finisher, it’s often been left to Kieswetter to re-build an innings, which England already decided he was not suited for. Hence, Kieswetter has been trapped in a paradox of the England management’s creating.

It’s worth noting as well that Kieswetter’s keeping has improved dramatically from the beginning of his international career and spectacular catches have rapidly become his signature. His batting as well, can verge on the spectacular, and while his overseas record may not flatter his statistics, dropping him for the New Zealand tour is pretty poor from the England management. After all, this is the man who won England the world cup in the Caribbean two years ago.

My defence for Kieswetter stems from the fact I don’t see any player better suited to the role of wicket keeper/batsman for England in the short form of the game. Considering the following candidates, I know who the right man for the job is.

Candidate No. 1 – Matt Prior

He may be the best wicket keeper/batsman in test matches but for me, Matt Prior doesn’t cut it for the ODI’s and T20’s. However, I, like many people, am a massive Matt Prior fan. Despite this his ODI record is not something to shout about, 62 innings at an average of 24.18. In Matt Prior’s defence, he also spent his ODI career zig-zagging up and down the order, never playing in a settled position; he’s played up the order, down the order and even had a go at opening. It’s hard to get settled and equipped to utilise your position when it changes from match to match. His glove work is inarguably impeccable. His domestic form in the short form of the game has been fairly spectacular, but Prior is getting on now, and this new, young, dynamic England side cannot afford to live in the past.

England need to move on from Matt Prior in ODI's. Image: gingerchrismc via flickr Creative Commons

England need to move on from Matt Prior in ODI’s. Image: gingerchrismc via flickr Creative Commons

Candidate No.2 – Jos Buttler

Jos Buttler is very obviously an extremely talented young cricketer. But I fear that he may suffer from Mark Ramprakash syndrome; electric at country level, always slightly off kilter at international level. He’s had his moments and displayed some exceptional batting skills at times. But I wouldn’t give him the gloves. He doesn’t even keep for his county side, Somerset, seeing as Kieswetter will never be ousted as their no.1 choice keeper. I would not trust him behind the stumps in a tense situation where every run counts. Kieswetter’s keeping should easily keep Buttler at bay, but England appear to have different ideas.

Candidate No. 3 – Steven Davies

Steven Davies been chosen several times as the backup wicket keeper on test match tours, but as far as ODI’s and T20’s are concerned he’s been systematically overlooked. If you are looking for solid, dependable glove work, look no further than Steven Davies who is always reliable behind the stumps. He actually boasts a fairly decent average of 30.50 in an England shirt with a strike rate of over 100. In all shorter formats of the game his strike rate is in fact, over 100. However I can very much understand why he has been so overlooked in favour of Kieswetter. Kieswetter hits the ball so hard I actually wonder why the bowler doesn’t instinctively dive for cover; his big hitting status is what is desired in the short format of the game these days. Davies does not have the same kind of reputation and in many respects, does not have the range of shots needed for today’s brand of limited overs cricket.

Candidate No. 4 – Johnny Bairstow

I’ve been staggered by his batting displays, he’s shown poise, maturity and above all, ingenuity. He epitomises the old head on young shoulders, he’s also, dynamite in the field. I would be concerned about losing such a talented outfielder and giving him the gloves when he’s so untried in that position. He’s hugely exciting of course and I will never forget his debut, on a cold night in Cardiff, under lights, under pressure and all eyes on him. Step up Johnny Bairstow. It was possibly the most impressive debut by an English batsman since Ben Hollioake put the Aussie’s to the sword. But Bairstow is a batsman more than a keeper. Why complicate matters for him right now when there’s a wicket keeper/batsman who is already suited to the international scene. The wicket keeping element aside, the future is very bright for English batting, and it belongs to Johnny Bairstow.

Ultimately, England should never have dropped Craig Kieswetter. This merry-go-round of wicket keepers has been going on for long enough, from the Geraint Jones experiment to Chris Read, Matt Prior and Steven Davies, it seemed like, for a moment at least, England had settled on Kieswetter. But the revolving door policy strikes again, leaving England more unsettled than they were when they started the tour.

The first ODI that Jos Buttler was given the gloves at the expense of Kieswetter, he made 14 runs. India won by 5 wickets.

Excellent decision.

5 comments

  1. This is a very well written article. However, I can’t agree with you about Craig Kieswetter. Whilst he has had some spectacular innings in both ODIs and T20s, his batting has always been a little circumspect. He cannot nudge or nurdle, something which is vital in the middle part of an ODI innings. He either hits a boundary or is out. This hence makes him unreliable. His wicketkeeping itself, whilst improved markedly from his early England days, is also not as good as other international keepers.

    Your assessment of the other WKs is, nevertheless, good. Prior has been tried and tested in ODIs and T20s and has been below par. Buttler and Bairstow are, I think the future, but giving them the gloves maybe a bit early. Re Steven Davies, I thought he was rudely and unnessecarily disposed of before the World Cup (he’d been playing well in the Australia ODI series) so it may be his time again. Who knows. Or we could tempt James Foster back to international glovemanship. Arguably the best Wicketkeeper in the game (his keeping helped Eng win the T20 World Cup), an experienced head and knows his role in the lower order, he might be a useful interim WK for the Champions Trophy before Bairstow/Buttler get the role in the long run.

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  2. 29 Jan ’13 at 9:45 pm

    Stephen Thorne

    I say Jos Buttler deserves a chance in the team. His batting performance, alongside Joe Root, was the most promising thing about the ODI series. It should not be forgotten that he helped secure victory in the second T20 too.

    Craig Kieswetter has now played 46 ODI games and still has an average barely above 30. You don’t see many other international sides picking a WK with the same stats.

    I would like to see England ditch other overrated players too like Samit Patel and Jade Dernbach.

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    • Yeah, they fell apart in the end. I was banking on Pakistan’s abtiliy to make a mess of things in their 1st innings, but it sounds like they were very watchful and made sure they didn’t make a mess of things.Even after that I think if Zimbabwe had set them 180-200 on the last day, it would have been interesting. As it was 88 (or whatever it was) was way too short.I think Zimbabwe have shown plenty of promise in their recent 2 test matches, they have shown that they are no less competitive than Bangladesh, and probably have more grit and determination than West Indies.

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