TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
THINK T20 and names like Chris Gayle and Lasith Malinga spring to mind. Craig Kieswetter? Perhaps not.
But, despite his low profile, the Johannesburg-born, Cape Town-educated England wicketkeeper-batsman is 48th on the list of alltime highest runscorers in the format. In those terms, he is a more successful T20 batsman than Shikhar Dhawan, Kevin Pietersen, Sachin Tendulkar, Richard Levi, Adam Gilchrist or Jesse Ryder.
Kieswetter has scored 27 half-centuries and has a strike rate of 123.5 to his credit in 114 games for Somerset, the Brisbane Heat, England Lions and England.
By the sound of things, none of that came as news to Piet Botha – the coach of the Warriors team Kieswetter will play for in the franchise T20 tournament starting on Sunday.
“I expect big things from him,” Botha said. “He’s got a proven track record in T20 and he’s played all over the world.”
Kieswetter could slot neatly into the vacancy left by Davy Jacobs, who is recovering from hand surgery, behind the stumps and at the top of the order. He could also do so on another level considering Jacobs is among the most battle-hardened players on the domestic scene.
“I think he will contribute to our team in terms of experience and helping the young guys,” Botha said.
Kieswetter was down with that: “I want to try and contribute with the guys; help as much as as I can with anything, especially on the field but also off the field – try to pass on a bit of knowledge.”
After his first net session with his new teammates, Kieswetter knew he was part of a spirited bunch.
“I thought I’d get it quite easy from the guys and I got the opposite,” he said. “It’s quite a young squad, full of young guys with a lot of talent. The key point for us is to get that talent playing consistently well over a period.”
That would become a lesser challenge if Rusty Theron overcomes a lingering knee injury. Yesterday, Botha remained unsure of the key allrounder’s fitness.
The Warriors play the Knights in the first match of a triple-header at the Wanderers on Sunday.
That will be followed by the Cobras’ clash with the Titans, and a game between the Lions and the defending champions, the Dolphins.