Flower sees Gilchrist role for Kieswetter

Andy Flower still believes Craig Kieswetter can be England's answer to Adam Gilchrist despite his recent run of low scores in one-day internationals.

updated: July 14, 2010 18:07 IST
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Andy Flower still believes Craig Kieswetter can be England's answer to Adam Gilchrist despite his recent run of low scores in one-day internationals.

Australia great Gilchrist, who retired from international cricket two years ago, was both a dashing opener in the one-day format, capable of big scores as well as a sound gloveman, and increased the pressure on his fellow keepers to match his runs in the Test arena too.

Many countries have tried and failed to find an equivalent to Gilchrist but England think they may be onto something with the South Africa born Kieswetter.

The 22-year-old, who plays for Somerset, struck a hundred in only his third one-day international and made his name globally with a man-of-the-match winning 63 in England's World Twenty20 final win against Australia in Barbados in May.

But given a chance to open in the one-day, as well as Twenty20 format, in England this season, the Somerset batsman has struggled for runs.

He could only manage 69 in five one-day innings against Australia, whose quicks repeatedly burst through his defences while in three matches against the somewhat less intimidating Bangladesh attack he was out for for 32, 20 and nought in a series England wrapped up 2-1 at Edgbaston on Monday.

But England coach Flower intends to keep faith with Kieswetter, who is set to feature in September's home one-day series against Pakistan and is still on course to be in the squad for next year's World Cup in Asia.

"He's had an interesting time of it recently, scoring a hundred in his third ODI, getting man of the match in the World Twenty20 final, being a World Cup winner," said Flower, himself once a wicketkeeper/batsman with Zimbabwe.

"A lot of English players haven't had that, so he's up there doing that and achieving things but then he's had a bit of a hard one-day series.

"I think international cricket can do that to you. It can teach you some lessons and perhaps expose a few doubts.

"I think in the long run for Craig it might be a very healthy thing to have happened, in that by the time he plays for England again, he'll need to make his package stronger.

Kieswetter has said he sees his role as scoring quickly at the start of the innings and Flower added he saw similarities with both dynamic Sri Lanka opener Sanath Jayasuriya and Gilchrist.

"I don't really use the word pinch-hitter myself, but he's an aggressive opening batsman for us, pretty much in the mould of Jayasuriya or Gilchrist," Flower explained.

"He's very, very talented and he hits the ball beautifully, as well as I've ever seen anyone hit the ball.

"But he's got to work out how to score runs.

"He's got a good coach at Somerset in Andy Hurry, and some good people to work with like Marcus Trescothick and, in our set-up, Graham Gooch (both former England openers). They might help, but it's up to Craig to find his method."

Someone who has taken his chance recently is Ravi Bopara.

Dropped for the climax of England's Ashes series win against Australia last year and omitted from subsequent tour squads, the Essex all-rounder took himself off to New Zealand provincial side Auckland and was later picked for the Kings Punjab XI in the Indian Premier League.

Monday saw Bopara mark his recall to England duty with 45 not out off just 16 balls and four wickets in a 144-run thrashing of Bangladesh.

He's a very classy player and we think a lot of Ravi," said Flower.

"Ravi hasn't played international cricket for a little while but got a little sniff of a chance and did really well."

Flower added: "I think it's a very healthy thing he got off his butt and went to New Zealand and wasn't pushed to do that.

"That shows the right independent mindset."