Kieswetter makes positive start for Lions

When you go on your first trip with England, all you want to do is get that sweater on and go out there and try and prove yourself and in his first two innings, Craig Kieswetter has shown that he wants to make the most of his opportunity.

Neil Fairbrother

It has been quite a first week for Craig Kieswetter on his first England trip. Craig qualifies officially for England on February 16, but he must already have made a big impression on the powers-that-be with his performances in the first two matches against Pakistan A.

When you go on your first trip with England, all you want to do is get that sweater on and go out there and try and prove yourself and in his first two innings, Craig has shown that he wants to make the most of his opportunity. On both occasions he has played right the way through the innings, hitting a match-winning 77 off 52 balls in the first match, and that has to improve his prospects with England’s management.

Craig has been helped by the Lions playing him as an opener, a position he has played for Somerset in limited overs cricket, and he has responded by going out and playing his natural game. I would imagine England would also have been impressed by his ability to play through the innings. They have been looking for someone to do that with the senior side for some time and hopefully this positive start augurs well for the future.

Of course, this Wednesday is the big game for Craig and the rest of the Lions when they face the full England side as a warm-up for the two Twenty20 Internationals against Pakistan. Every member of the Lions team will be looking to impress in that game, particularly as captain Paul Collingwood has stated that they are still to decide their squad for the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in the Caribbean at the end of May.

I am going out to Dubai to see that match and see how two members of the International Sports Management stable fare against each other. Craig will be playing for the Lions and, hopefully, Ajmal Shahzad will be playing for England in the same match – it would be nice to think they could both impress. I am staying on to watch England’s first Twenty20 international and I am crossing my fingers that Ajmal can force his way in for that match, which would be very exciting for him and everyone concerned at ISM.

Away from England, I have been watching India’s series against South Africa with great interest. This is effectively the shoot-out to decide who is going to be regarded as the best Test team in the world and after the way Dale Steyn tore through India’s batting line-up in the first Test, it looked like South Africa were going to take some stopping.

Experience teaches you that you should never under-estimate India, particularly on home soil, and it looks like they will level the series with victory in Kolkata. The problem with playing against India is that if Virenda Sehwag is in the mood, as he clearly was in this Test, he scores so quickly that he can take the game away from the opposition very quickly. As if that is not intimidating enough, they then had to contend with Sachin Tendulkar walking out and scoring yet another century to add to his already long list of them. It promises to be a fascinating contest for the rest of the series.

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