Cow Corner

Things can only get Kieswetter

Cow Corner

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The latest name to slide off the 'I've served my time' conveyer belt is Craig 'brace yourself' Kieswetter, and the big-hitting, big-talking 22-year-old is now ready to bulldoze his way into Alastair Cook's Test side in Bangladesh.

Kieswetter's official nickname, according to the ever-jovial Marcus Trescothick, is 'Hobnob'. His opening partner politely declined to explain why, but needless to say that the batsman is the 'home of banter' in the Taunton dressing room.

The wicketkeeper-batsman qualified for England last week and, quicker than you could say 'Hard lines James Foster', the former Lion was called up to the ever-changing tour party for Bangladesh.

How did he respond? With a brutal, Matthew Hayden-esque 143, only without the gum-chewing, glaring, and post-innings offers to serve up pan-fried sea bass while still wearing his sweaty inners. 

Kieswetter secured his status courtesy of his Scottish mother, having completed his four year qualification period since moving from Johannesburg, and is tipped for stardom in the kind of hushed tones which were previously reserved for Kevin Pietersen back in 2004.

Graeme Smith sounded like an over-zealous ex-boyfriend over the summer as he urged the protégé to return to the Proteas' setup he left after the 2005 U19 World Cup.

"Yes, we want him back," Smith said, before effectively bracketing Kieswetter with biltong and Castle Lager: "Cricketers are one of South Africa's biggest exports, but our national side are successful and players should want to be a part of it."

After it was suggested to Smith that his country may be set to lose one of international cricket's most exciting prospects, the South Africa skipper rather unconvincingly cited the return of prodigal sons Ryan McLaren and Charl Langeveldt as proof the development setup was actually in rude health.

'Military-medium' McLaren is 27 years old, while 'fractionally-quicker-than-medium' Langeveldt is a tender 35. But that would, of course, be entirely pedantic to point out.

Kieswetter underlined his credentials with a string of belligerent displays for England Lions after earning rave reviews with the performance squad. He took Pakistan A to the cleaners with an emphatic 77 off 52 balls in the first Twenty20 in Sharjah, and followed that by crushing Paul Collingwood's first team with a destructive 81.

Kieswetter made his Somerset first team debut in April 2007, when he immediately notched up a breezy 69 not out off 58 balls, and snaffled a stonker of a catch which was hastily labelled 'world class' by the Taunton faithful.

He has since taken the county circuit by storm, and was an important part of Somerset's progression through to the Champions League in India after he forged a formidable opening partnership with Trescothick.

Lions' batting coach Graham Thorpe is adamant that Kieswetter has the ability to earn international distinction even as a specialist batsman, while his 'keeping is more than tidy.

Indeed, England wicketkeeping coach Bruce French, the man more commonly known for transforming Matt Prior's ailing glovework from resembling Rahul Dravid's to, say, Alec Stewart's, was gushing about Kieswetter's talent after working with him in Pretoria before Christmas.

Cowers was kindly afforded 60 seconds of Kieswetter's time prior to the Champions League, and the 22 year old's quite staggering confidence immediately stuck out like Samit Patel's midriff. The only other players who can be recalled to match his unerring conviction are Pietersen and Allan apt.

Among the pearls of wisdom, offered up by Kieswetter like a Saj Mahmood half-tracker, were: 'If your house is burning down, save your phone but don't forget the charger'; 'Name my autobiography: 'Behind these eyes''; and 'If you can't be a student forever, just stay single'.

The man who says his all-time hero has always been Trescothick, and if he could have dinner with three people would select Nelson Mandela, Tiger Woods and Cheryl Cole ("for obvious reasons"), is nothing less than a massive character. Indeed, when asked who would be his ideal woman (apart from Cole/Tweedy of course), Kieswetter simply replied: "Anything that's going!" Let's hope he is more selective with his shot-making.

But the last thing the England selectors would care to consider would be his dressing room demeanour, and one look at his ravishing cover drive and dashing dab-sweep renders every other criteria obsolete in their books.

England's national selector Geoff 'to be fair' Miller, could only thinly veil his teenage girl-like excitement about Kieswetter's rapid development, but was unequivocal about limiting the number of newly qualified players in the set up.

"We have got to get to the stage where we are very careful on that [the number of South Africans in the England team], and we will be," Miller said.

"He has developed his game, he's a strong character, so he fits all the bills from an England point of view. South Africa talked to him and he said 'I'm English', so that's that."

Quite. What else is there to say, Geoff?

The progress of Kieswetter through the country's development system is not likely to delight former captain and Pimms-quaffer extraordinaire Michael Vaughan, who described Jonathan Trott's involvement as "a sad day for English cricket" in his partially controversial, partially interesting autobiography.

There is no doubt that England suddenly have a prodigious talent in their ranks. The question will simply be how long it takes for the gregarious 22 year old to make his mark on the biggest stage. If 'Dusty' Miller's excitement is anything to go by, we are all in for a treat.

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