Hurray! Friday! Let’s celebrate by writing about melancholy exits!
We’ve sadly had two recently. Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s international career ended just as he imagined it would when he first took up the sport as a boy, with a WhatsApp exchange between Test series. Meanwhile, Craig Kieswetter has had to call it a day at the age of 27 because of the hideous eye injury he sustained last year.
Chanderpaul did at least make it to the age of 40 as an international cricketer and with 164 Tests to his name, few can boast a longer career . He also finishes with an average of 51, so few can boast a better career either. Even so, no-one dreams of a poignant final moment in which all they’re doing is fuming at a message on their phone.
Was it the right time for him to go? He didn’t want to, but it’s a lot easier to make the decision to continue when you’re the player. You don’t really have other options, whereas the selectors do. For the West Indies, life goes on. For Chanderpaul, in a certain maudlin sense, it doesn’t.
It’s unclear from Kieswetter’s statement whether the issue is the injury itself or his reaction to it. “I feel mentally I will never again be the player that I was,” perhaps hints that it’s the latter.
And who can blame him? Having your eye socket fractured and your vision knackered is going to leave a perfectly understandable psychological mark, even if you get over the physical effects. This is why we should never be too angry at batsmen who back away from short-pitched bowling. They’re the logical ones. It’s the ones who get in line who have the wonky thinking.
Kieswetter’s career high point was being named man of the match when England won the World T20 in 2010. That bigstagegoodknockability was never really on display again and it’s bleak to think that reports such as this one reduce the whole course of his life up until now to those 49 balls.
Somerset play Hampshire tonight and the West Indies continue their Test against Australia. Hopefully both players will join the rest of us by having a beer and enjoying the spectacle. After all, it really ain’t so bad this side of the boundary ropes.
For us, this is the biggest positive to have come out of England’s one-day series win against Sri Lanka. In one-day cricket, your opening batsmen are pretty much your most important players and England have rarely had a decent, settled partnership.
The run-up to the last World Cup was pretty typical. Mere weeks away from the event, Steven Davies opened, then Matt Prior, before Kevin Pietersen was given the job after a scissors-paper-stone marathon involving everyone who made it to breakfast at the team hotel one particular morning.
The chopping and changing never seems to end and England rarely start a 50-over match without feeling like they’re two wickets down before a ball is bowled. No starts, slow starts and bad starts – those are the ways in which England start their innings. Cook and Kieswetter haven’t done this.
Who knows, they might actually start to get used to each other. If they make a complete arse of the job against India later in the summer, can we maybe just give them the benefit of the doubt? The abiding suspicion that the grass is greener elsewhere rather overlooks an English one-day opening landscape that is as lush as that bit of the moon where Buzz Aldrin spilt bleach.
You have to understand that we’re not criticising Craig Kieswetter. Our issues are with how easily people are impressed and with county cricket in general.
Craig Kieswetter scored a hundred again yesterday. Well played Craig. That’s two in a week so SURELY he’s ready to play for England now.
Well, no. We don’t see how you can conclude that. The first hundred was against Worcestershire, who already seem almost certain to finish bottom of the first division. This second one was against Gloucestershire, who are a second division side because the CB40 is a competition where the groups were randomly selected.
It’s not Kieswetter’s fault that he faced a bowling attack of Gidman, Taylor, Fuller, Payne, Young and Dawson, but all the same, it’s hardly Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh.
You can’t knock him for scoring the runs, but you have to acknowledge that some performances in county cricket tell us very little about a player.
On Saturday afternoon, we felt young and cool. We were at Macclesfield Beer Festival. Sometimes it’s impossible to make accurate evaluations in a particular environment.
That is all it takes.
Craig Kieswetter hasn’t really scored runs in quite some time, but he’s a decent batsman and sooner or later he was going to put that right. Today he made 117 and our first thought was that there would be some knee-jerk media coverage. Sure enough, Cricinfo have gone with ‘Kieswetter ton nudges the selectors’ and doubtless many other outlets have followed suit.
It’s harsh to brand a talented cricketer as being a fad, but we’ve always felt that Kieswetter was overhyped and that the reason for that was that he lay at the heart of a triple Venn of popular cricket media narratives.
This hundred was scored at Taunton against a Worcestershire attack of Wright, Richardson, Shantry and Andrew. It is not worthless, but it’s not all that. People shouldn’t be telling him he’s the king of hundreds now, they should be saying: “Good knock, now go and do it again.”
Thoughts about the media coverage of Craig Kieswetter have been bubbling inside us for a while like Dave’s Insanity Sauce in an otherwise empty stomach.
Rather than terrify you all with more than four sentences in a row, we decided it was probably better if we evacuated our system over at the Wisden Cricketer where it’s perfectly acceptable to write more than 100 words on one subject.
When we suggested that Australia’s current one-day team wasn’t its strongest, people took this as making excuses on their behalf. We’re not a naysayer when it comes to this England one-day side. We’re just pleading for perspective.
For example, when Shaun Tait didn’t play, England lost 12 wickets in two matches. When he did, they lost 29 in three. It seems a lot of people find it easy to get carried away when England win a couple of matches.
Similarly, the talk of whether Craig Kieswetter should be promoted to the Test team is quiet at the minute. The flipside of building him up as the figurehead of ‘brave new England’ is that scores of 38, 8, 0, 12 and 11 take on symbolic importance. If he represents England’s ‘brand’ of cricket (and that word’s apposite because the English one-day revolution is in no small part a marketing exercise) then when he fails, so does the brand of cricket he represents.
But 3-2 against Australia is always a good result. England are unquestionably a better one-day team than they were, but they were pretty dreadful – they are probably no better than ‘good’ now. For his part, Craig Kieswetter’s hit one-day runs against Bangladesh and made his one Twenty20 international fifty in a World Cup final. It’s solid, but let’s not go mad.
The BBC go with ‘Craig Kieswetter keeps England one-day spot’. Cricinfo have got ‘Craig Kieswetter and Ian Bell earn ODI calls’.
In what world is this news? Craig Kieswetter hit a hundred in his last one-day international and was man of the match in his last Twenty20 international – the World Twenty20 final. Why wouldn’t he be in the England squad? If it’s about how he’s playing as a wicketkeeper then surely the headline’s ‘Prior dropped’.
Clearly it isn’t that. Clearly it’s just part of a wider trend where everyone in the media suddenly wants to bum Craig Kieswetter. We’ve made our strong views about Craig Kieswetter well known.
“Craig Kieswetter’s unstoppable march” isn’t a story; it’s something that can be painted as a story because it’s half the Kevin Pietersen story and half the same old ‘pressure on the England wicketkeeper’ story. Actually, that’s not fair – there’s probably a bit of ‘the new Adam Gilchrist’ in there too.
The point is, this isn’t a story in its own right, it’s a story collage – photocopies of other stories all pasted together so that they look like something – possibly a marmot.
We might as well do our usual thing of formalising our fence-sitting position.
Our initial feelings when Somerset wicketkeeper, Craig Kieswetter, started eating up column inches was: ‘No, not another one. Too many wicketkeepers!’
Everyone’s got a favourite wicketkeeper to push and we hate it. No-one can make an informed decision when eight different players are being championed by various people. It’s the same with seam bowlers. Just how many 85mph seam bowlers who can supposedly bowl reverse swing does one nation need?
Anyway, Matt Prior’s batting and keeping well in Test cricket. Let’s leave him be. In one-day internationals, we kind of see the benefit of Kieswetter, because Prior’s never got to grips with that form of the game.
There you go. There’s our official stance in all its muddy, inconclusive glory. Really, we should have a cull of England-qualified wicketkeepers and save everyone from a lot of boring arguments.