Air of Inevitability

For anyone who has regularly seen Craig Kieswetter play for Somerset over the last few years (and I have), his promotion to the England one-day squad had an air of inevitability about it. With Matt Prior's failure to make the most of his opportunities with the bat in the over-limit game, I suspect it won't be long before Kieswetter is in the starting eleven, and, once he's there, he may take a lot of shifting. The Test side will probably take longer, but that, surely, will come.

Kieswetter, for as much as he's become a crowd favourite at Taunton, is South African. Not someone who happened to be born there but learned his cricket in England (like Prior himself, or Andrew Strauss), just South African. With a Scottish mother, but South African.

Regardless of England's seasoned history of playing players with South African backgrounds, it's hard not to feel a pang of discomfort as a third player with a history of junior cricket in that country makes his way into the current team.

But what can be done? I seem to remember Geoff Miller muttering something about possible future problems last summer, but the only way round it would seem to be a decision on the part of the selectors not to select the best player for a particular position if he'd learned his cricket elsewhere. And that's hard to envisage.

No, we'll just have to rely on county cricket producing more players of the required standard. And that (for a range of reasons that could probably fill an entire blog) is pretty hard to envisage too.

Good luck, Craig.


Thiru Cumaran said...

There is a distinct difference between the duo of Prior & Strauss and Kieswetter.

The reason why ppl are not very comfortable with Kieswetter is because he came to England solely to play cricket for the England team.

However, let's look at the others. I hope my info's correct as I read them from English newspaper websites

Prior's parents got divorced and he came to England with his mum, who, if I'm not mistaken, was English. Their move to England seemed more like they just wanted to leave the bad memories behind in SA.

Strauss's parents moved from SA to England when he was 2 years old!

Brian Carpenter said...

Thanks for the comment, Thiru, which reinforces exactly the point I was trying to make. I don't know how old Prior and Strauss were when they came to the UK (your info is probably right) but they certainly learned most of their cricket here, at independent schools in the south of England - Strauss at Radley College and Prior at Brighton College. Prior played for England at under-15 and under-19 level.

Kieswetter, like Pietersen and Trott, is wholly a product of the SA system, and, as more than one person has said elsewhere, he'll probably prove to be the one that they'll feel really got away. Trott isn't as good, and, when Pietersen left they had no idea how good he'd become.

Edmund said...

What indeed can be done? If the ICC allows someone who has represented one country to play for another (when he might have helped the country of his birth fight for the test status they deserve) (I mean Morgan, of course), then how will it ever stop someone running to another country to score a point against his own? I think the ICC needs to show more spine here to stop this passport-switching farce.
Kieswetter is an impressive hitter, of course, but that a middle order of Trott, Pietersen, Kieswetter looks not only possible but even likely should be a source of shame to English batsmen. Key, Bell, Collingwood might all be just as effective on their day, but they don't seem to shout as loud.

On the other hand, do you or do
you not agree that Northampton-born Graeme Swann is the best spinner in international cricket at present in all forms of the game? I cannot think of one to rival him except perhaps the ageing Murali or the tireless Vettori, but I think at present Swanny eclipses even them. Moreover, how long has it been since we could say that an English spinner is the best in the world? Probably not for fifty years. (Forgive me, Deadly Derek, but I think the Indians and Lance Gibbs were in a different league even to you.)

So, if batsmen keep pouring over here from the South African nets, at least let it be said that bowling continues to be a true English art with no sign of abating and no need for infusions of South African blood. Look at Anderson, Broad and an unending treadmill here in Durham in constant supply.
Is there something in our psyche that makes our bowlers fierce competitors ready for anyone, while our batsmen's nerves fail in the face of competition from the far south?

Dean @ Cricket Betting Blog said...

I know that none of them are breaking any rules, but it doesn't feel right to me, the rules need changing.

From what I've read in the past both Strauss and Prior's parents made the decisions to come to England, I think when they arrived that Strauss was 5 or 6 and Prior was between 10 and 12.

For me this 'policy ' of picking England qualified players as opposed to Englishmen is now getting out of hand.

For a person to sit down in his homeland and decide he wants to come and play cricket for another country is just wrong. A county, state or province, fine, but to select a country is just a joke.

Why do they want to do it? We all know Pietersens reasons, but why all the others?

Do they think it is an easier route to play international cricket? Or is it for financial reasons?

I suppose looking back I maybe being a bit hypocritical writing this as I cheered Pietersen's 100 at the Oval in 2005, but at the time he was a one off.

Now I look at the England team and worry about the prospect of it, one day, in the not too distant future, being a side made up of a majority of South Africans, I will always support England, but that wouldn't feel right.

Also, from a slightly different view point. Under this policy, apart from his age, what was wrong with picking Stuart Law a few years back?

I know he has a Test cap for Australia, but why pick qualified players without international caps, but not qualified players with international caps?

The fact they refused to pick Law (when he was clearly good enough) shows to me that the selectors knew they had a moral duty to protct the England team, the only problem though is that it appears that those particular morals don't stretch very far these days.

Brian Carpenter said...

Ed, Dean, thanks very much for your comments and sorry to take a while to reply.

I'm not happy about the nationality issue at all but I don't think the ICC are really interested in doing anything meaningful about it. As I say, it doesn't say much for county cricket and gives the Aussies and Saffers another convenient stick to beat English cricket with.

I would certainly agree that there's nobody better than Swann bowling spin in the world today, although many Indians would doubtless advance the claims of Harbhajan, especially after his performance in the second Test v SA. I'd say in technical terms he's a better, cleverer, bowler than Swann but he's temperamentally suspect and inconsistent, not criticisms you could level at Swanny.

I suppose it's Laker. I remember Underwood (relatively late in his career) and he was exceptionally good (his incredible accuracy is what really sticks in my mind), but many people didn't regard him as a spinner in the accepted sense and I think that's right. He bowled at near medium pace for a start and held his fingers down the seam.

As to 'why they do it', Dean, I think it's a combination of finance (better salaries in county cricket), less competition and too much politics in South African cricket. Like you I would feel very uncomfortable with a side that had a majority of South Africans in it - I hope it never happens (and I think Geoff Miller does too) but you might not bet against it.

With Law I think it was simply a matter of age. I think he was 37/38 when he qualified and there was no mileage in selecting him, even though he was probably worth a place on merit. One the selectors got completely right, I'd say.

Dean @ Cricket Betting Blog said...

Brian, I think your right about Law and his age, and I agree it was the right choice.

The day we go down the road of picking players that have already played Test cricket for another country is the day we can all pack up following a national team.

Was just making a point that maybe there was a moral point in not picking him, but that the morals don't go that far to not picking Kieswetter, Trott etc.

As you say, his age was probably the main reason.

In response to Edmund, I would have to say that Swann is certainly the form spinner in world cricket at the moment, yes, the sub continent would argue the case for their spinners, and it would be a tough call on who is the best.

The only real note of caution for me is that Harbhajan has been around for quite a few years, his form has been a bit up and down over time, but he can still put in match winning performances.

Swann has only been around for 18 months (or so), and in that time has gone from strength to strength. If he is still performing at his current standard in another 12 months+, then there will be no doubt that he is the top spinner in the world.

After all, a good spell can only go on for so long before we have to acknowledge that it is not just a good run, but a top class performer.

Thiru Cumaran said...

Brian, 2 words..

Ban Kolpaks!

Oh, and BTW, Prior was supposed to be 11, while Strauss was 2

Brian Carpenter said...

Dean, you're right. Swann needs to do it for a few years yet. Hard to tell whether the fact that he's started late (he's nearly 31 now) will work for or against him, but spinners can go on longer than seamers so it may be a positive. I think he'll bowl well in Bangladesh.

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