Ian Baker - Kieswetter invigorates England T20 ambitions
24 Feb 2010 - 13:12:45
In the space of a week, England have gone from having an uncertain future in one-day and Twenty20 cricket, to one full of eternal optimism.
Yet it is hard to believe most of that has stemmed from the exploits of another young man from South Africa.
Born in Johannesburg to a Scottish mother and South African father, Craig Kieswetter, 22, qualifed to play for England only last week after four years UK residency.
And what a seven days it has been since.
First he hammered 81 playing for England Lions against England's seniors in Dubai.
That earned a call-up to the touring party for the trip to Bangladesh and he has already given England fans reason to rejoice.
His 143 against the BCB XI in England's opening tour match was clean hitting at his absolute best, and skipper Alastair Cook later acknowledged as being up there with the very best.
But Kieswetter is not the only reason for belief that England can finally put their woes in the shorter games behind them.
Despite Abdul Razzaq's quite brilliant 46 not out from 18 balls to earn Pakistan a 1-1 draw in Dubai, England now appear to be learning Twenty20 lessons.
Their bowling and fielding was exceptional. Ryan Sidebottom, Stuart Broad, Ajmal Shahzad, Luke Wright and Graeme Swann were all on the money, showing they are clearly adapting to the demands of the 20-over game.
And have you ever seen an England side so sharp and athletic in the field? So many runs were prevented thanks to the efforts of probably the best physical side England have ever produced. They held their catches and produced a run out or two here and there.
Kevin Pietersen's majestic return to form and some big hitting from Eoin Morgan prove that England have options - and danger men in Twenty20 cricket.
England are on a bit of a hiding to nothing in Bangladesh - they will want to maintain their 100 per cent record against the Tigers when they play three one-dayers and two Test matches.
But the success of certain players could stand England in good stead for the future.
I expect Kieswetter to be the man to turn them from an inconsistent one-day and Twenty20 side into a very good one indeed - providing he can cope with the hype.
IAN BAKER WILL BE ON THE ROAD WITH ENGLAND IN BANGLADESH