Kieswetter lands to renew friendly rivalry with Buttler

England's Craig Kieswetter
England's Craig Kieswetter
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Craig Kieswetter is ready to resume a long-standing professional rivalry with his friend Jos Buttler after joining England’s World Twenty20 squad in Bangladesh.

Craig Kieswetter is ready to resume a long-standing professional rivalry with his friend Jos Buttler after joining England’s World Twenty20 squad in Bangladesh.

Kieswetter and Buttler have spent much of their young careers vying with each other for selection, having both come through the Somerset ranks as exciting wicketkeeper-batsmen.

With both men harbouring international ambitions, and a brief experiment of splitting the keeping job between formats ultimately satisfying neither, it soon became clear that one would have to leave Taunton.

That decision was made at the end of last season when Somerset’s apparent faith in 26-year-old Kieswetter saw Buttler move to Lancashire.

England’s selectors, faced with the same conundrum, threw their weight behind the younger man with Buttler, 23, their No 1 gloveman in limited-overs cricket.

But the pair will be sharing practice sessions once again in Chittagong after Kieswetter was recalled from a year-long England exile to replace the injured Luke Wright.

Although ostensibly in as batting cover, Kieswetter will also be pitting his skills against a familiar figure in keeping drills.

“I think I’m here to challenge the batters and to challenge Jos,” he said. “In professional sport, especially international sport, you can’t really rest on your laurels.

“It’s all been well documented – we’re two good friends and when you get into business or the professional side of life it makes friendship a bit tricky.

“But it hasn’t pushed us away, we still remain quite close and we’re both pretty happy with the way it has turned out. Like any club when you have two international-quality players, both want to be playing. The way it went was that Jos made that decision (to leave Somerset) and rightfully so. We all wish him the best.

“He is obviously sorely missed at our club but ultimately one of us was going to have to leave.”

Kieswetter’s willingness to confront an issue both he and Buttler previously treated with a rehearsed mix of indifference and obfuscation hints at a new-found maturity.

He openly admits he found the roller-coaster first chapter of his international career, which saw him play a key part in 2010’s World Twenty20 triumph before a prolonged spell of bad form led to the axe, mentally taxing.

Since being dropped, he sought the specialist advice of Jon Pitts, a performance coach who made his name in equestrianism before helping out at Somerset, where Marcus Trescothick was a keen advocate.

“It has been a pretty tumultuous England career for me so far, in and out and in and out and back,” he said. “My personal feeling is that I believe I have always been good enough and had the talent to play on the technical side of it.

“But I was more adept at handling it technically than I was mentally. I have gone away a little bit from the technical and physical side of the game and worked with Jon, who has worked in equestrian and football as a mental coach.”

Kieswetter will have had just a couple of full practice sessions to persuade coach Ashley Giles he is worthy of a place against Sri Lanka tomorrow.

Alex Hales is under-performing at the head of the innings, but has enough credit in the bank to be given another chance, meaning Kieswetter’s best hope would be for England to sacrifice a specialist seamer – possibly Jade Dernbach – and slot in at seven as a late-order power-hitter.