Somerset’s targets for the next season suffered an early setback with influential wicket-keeper Craig Kieswetter being deemed ‘unlikely’ to feature to play for Somerset at all in 2015 in an official club statement.
Kieswetter, who has played 46 ODIs for England, has withdrawn from the upcoming KFC Big Bash tournament in Australia, where he had been set to appear for Sydney Thunder, and it seems quite possible that he will miss the whole of the 2015 season until his vision has returned to normal.
The injury to his eye was suffered during a County Championship match at Wantage Road in July, when he was struck on the helmet by left-arm seamer David Willey, and Kieswetter was kept out of action until September, having had surgery on a broken nose and fractured eye socket and also suffered a bloodied right eye. He posted horrific pictures of the injury on social network sites but was assured at the time that there was no lasting damage to the eye.
Upon his return to action, Kieswetter told ESPNCricinfo: “Once the extent of the injury became clear, I was panicking; there was a week before the surgery and two weeks after that I was worried that I might not play again.”
The club statement seemed to imply that he had trouble with his eyesight during the Ram Slam T20 competition in South Africa, in which he appeared for the Chevrolet Warriors, and, despite two fifties in his first three innings for the side, his form fell away dramatically, with just 56 runs coming in his final seven innings.
The 27-year-old commented: “It is really disappointing, but my eye is not 100% and this of course is critical in maintaining the levels of performance that I expect of myself. I need to make every effort to resolve the matter and have the best specialist help in that regard.”
The news is, of course, a major setback for the club, for whom Kieswetter was the leading run-scorer in the T20 Blast last season, and the South Africa-born ‘keeper has become a senior player at the County Ground.
Whilst there is a chance that Somerset will delve into the transfer market and sign unattached Hampshire wicket-keeper Michael Bates, who has proved adept with the gloves, but averages just 21.2 in first-class cricket, it seems probable that the Cider Army will enter the 2015 season with just Alex Barrow and James Regan as recognised wicket-keepers.
Another option maybe to pick club captain Marcus Trescothick behind the stumps, who appeared there in the T20 season despite his loss of form. However, with his 39th birthday approaching, it may prove strenuous on the opening batsman, and this may only be a viable option in the shortest form of the game.
It is also, of course, a bitter blow for Kieswetter himself, who only last week was named in England’s provisional 30-man World Cup squad. Having proved himself in Twenty20 leagues across the world over the past 18 months, it is a harsh reality for the former Millfield School attendee that he may face an entire season out of the game.
New Director of Cricket Matt Maynard said: “This is clearly worrying news for Craig, and his health and well-being are paramount in our minds at present. We will continue to support him during his treatment and rehabilitation and hope to see him return to playing as quickly as possible.”
Here at The Incider, our best wishes are of course with Craig and his family at this time.