England seal whitewash as Kieswetter hits century
England’s cricketers completed a whitewash in the One Day International series against Bangladesh, despite firm evidence the hosts are a much improved outfit.
Nothing less than a 3-0 win was expected from the tourists but under the inexperienced captaincy of Alistair Cook and with an escalating injury crisis in the seam bowling department, many anticipated an upset.
As it was, Eoin Morgan’s magnificent unbeaten 110 in the second match in Dhaka saved England from their only potential defeat after some miserly bowling from the Bangladesh captain Shakib al Hasan had seemingly swung the game in the direction of the hosts.
Morgan is fast becoming England’s trump card in the middle order, showing breathtaking maturity as well as clinical insurgency in finishing the match off. One salivating journalist likened his batting to a cross between Neil Fairbrother and Graham Thorpe; there can be few better compliments than that.
Morgan’s first century for England - he had one previous ton from his time playing for Ireland - was followed in the next game by another first, and one which has once again ignited the debate over the foreign presence in the England side.
Craig Kieswetter is a 22-year-old South African born wicketkeeper-batsman who qualified for England just a few days before the start of the series but has been on the radar of the English selectors for quite some time. His prolific batting efforts in county cricket ensured a call-up for the Lions squad this winter, and after his match winning innings of 81 in a warm-up against the senior side in Dubai last month, he was drafted in to open the batting with Alistair Cook.
And after a slightly disappointing effort in the first two games, Kieswetter hit a match winning 107 to set up a comfortable 45 run win in the final game of the series.
Kieswetter is undoubtedly one of the most talented young players available to England but he also increases the number of South African players in the squad to three causing many, including Michael Vaughan, to question the selection policy.
It looks like becoming a moot point however, with Kieswetter now certain to play an increasingly pivotal role, particularly in the shorter formats. His destructive hitting is considered too valuable not to be utilised, particularly when so few young English-bred cricketers appear able to bat in an unconventional, explosive manner.
Hopes of winning the World T20 in the West Indies next month will now rest on Morgan, Pietersen and Kieswetter, none of whom played their formative years in England. The conventional wisdom says that the club pitches in this country do not encourage players to hit through the line of the ball, yet Morgan, growing up on similar if not worse tracks in Ireland, has an innate and almost freakish ability to hit the ball a long way and in an unconventional fashion.
The Kieswetter impact has also created a selection headache for England’s next ODI series. Alistair Cook, who passed his first Captaincy test with flying colours, batted with a new found impetus during the series, making scores of 64, 60 and 32. However, with Andrew Strauss destined to return to the side in the near future, the selectors must now choose between the two captains and Kieswetter for the two opening births.
England now have a week before the first Test starts which will be welcome news for the injured seamers Stuart Broad and Graham Onions. Neither are believed to be carrying serious knocks but with the rigours of a sub-continental Test match so close at hand, England will be readying the likes of Liam Plunkett, Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad