Bang up to speed
Bob Willis charts the continuing rise of Craig Kieswetter and gives his assessment of Brett Lee's Test career.
Last Updated: 23/02/10 2:45pm
To borrow a captain's cliché, England can take plenty of positives from the recent Twenty20 series against Pakistan into their tour of Bangladesh.
Once again Eoin Morgan demonstrated his one-day prowess and it was good to see the ball hitting the middle of Kevin Pietersen's bat.
Thanks to those two players we even witnessed a limited-overs century stand. There certainly should be plenty more of those to come over the next few weeks.
Craig Kieswetter, who is no stranger to regular viewers of the domestic game on Sky Sports, is clearly a very special talent and calling him into the full one-day squad was definitely the right move.
I think this lad has the potential to get into the England side as a batsman alone if Matt Prior excels and succeeds in keeping the gloves.
At the very least, his runs will make the rest of the guys who thought their place in the 50-over set-up was rather cosy sit up and take notice.
The 22-year-old has learnt his trade at Somerset and what an education it has been, batting at the other end to the likes of Marcus Trescothick and Justin Langer.
On the one hand you've got a batsman who consistently looks to hit boundaries and generally succeeds and another who picks out the gaps in the field and makes ones into twos and twos into threes.
Playing alongside players of that calibre on a shirt-front at Taunton, with its short, straight boundaries has given Kieswetter enormous confidence to go out and play and that's exactly what he's doing.
Kieswetter might just be the man to shake up the Twenty20 side too because, to date, England have failed to find a regular opening Twenty20 partnership capable of performing consistently.
Getting the side off to a lightning start in Twenty20 cricket is a high-risk position but Jonathan Trott and Joe Denly don't look like the answer to a maiden's prayer at present.
While I understand that Andy Flower will not to chop and change too much at the top of the order, there is still plenty of room for improvement.
Yes, England's line-up is very settled but in terms of the world stage it is not really performing adequately against the top sides.
While watching the Twenty20 matches against Pakistan I was struck by the definite and remarkable improvement in England's standard of fielding.
I'm sure the squad will put that down to all the work they have been doing on their fitness levels and it was noticeable that on their first full day in Bangladesh they were gym training rather than cricket training.
They rightly see their work in the field as a vital area that had to be improved if they are to bolster their record in 50-over cricket.
However, I still feel that over the next 12 months England are going to find out - in all three forms of the game - that a lack of pace in their bowling attack is going to be a big minus for them.
When England got their line right in the opening T20 match against Pakistan, the batsmen clearly didn't like the short-pitched delivery at all, but there simply weren't the resources to keep up the battery.
Talking of pace, it seems as though Brett Lee is likely to announce his retirement from Test cricket.
If that is the case I wish him well because he has been a tremendous entertainer over the years, primarily with the ball, of course, but also with the bat.
When Brett burst onto the Test scene in 1999 for the first of his 76 caps he appeared to just run up and let the ball go as fast he could.
But over the years he has matured into a very skilful bowler - one who made people sit up in their seats when he came on - thanks in part to one-day cricket.
These days a bowler has to have so many strings to his bow: reverse swing, lateral swing and slower balls are all part of the armoury and Brett's control improved as a result.
He wasn't a perfect Test match bowler because at times he went for quite a few runs.
Australia could accommodate that in a side featuring Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, but when those two greats retired Brett's economy rate became more of an issue.
Nevertheless, I'm sure he would have loved to have spent longer as Australia's senior bowler than injury permitted.
In terms of energy, commitment and enjoying the game - there was rarely a smile off his face - he was very much a role-model.
He was also chivalrous on the field, as proven by the manner in which he accepted defeat at Edgbaston in 2005 when despite falling just short in an epic Test he had the good grace to shake Andrew Flintoff's hand.