Craig Kieswetter: the former England cricketer out to excel on the Mena Golf Tour

Craig Kieswetter
Former cricketer Craig Kieswetter will now try his hand on golf

When injury brought an abrupt early end to the successful cricketing career of Craig Kieswetter, the former England international could have been forgiven for cursing his bad fortune.

But rather than wallow in self-pity, Kieswetter was pragmatic and almost immediately dedicated himself to a new career.

Like cricket, his new occupation requires patience, timing and hand-eye co-ordination. Kieswetter has these in abundance and is now hoping to make a big impact in the world of golf.

Still aged just 29, he is proving his golf swing is just as smooth as with a bat in hand as he tries to fulfill his dream of playing on the European Tour.

On his Mena Tour debut he shot a 4-under round of 66 at the Sahara Kuwait Championship and recently took part in the 3e Actuaries Open in Mongomo, Equatorial Guinea.

But just how did the decision come to pursue golf after sustaining the devastating facial injuries that ended his cricketing career?

“About three months after my retirement I considered golf seriously,” Kieswetter told 7DAYS. “I played junior golf competitively as a young boy but took cricket more seriously.

“The dynamic isn’t too far apart. A cricket match is four days and a golf tournament is four days. Obviously there are some technical changes but those can be picked up quickly.”

Kieswetter certainly seems to be making the transition look easy. Next year he will play full-time on the Mena Tour and golf fans across the UAE will have plenty of opportunities to assess his golf game.

Watching him in action on the course will also provide a glimpse into the reason Kieswetter has been able to move on from a career-ending injury.

Having suffered a broken nose and cheekbone that caused permanent damage to his eyesight after being hit on the head by Northamptonshire pace bowler David Willey, Kieswetter was forced to retire in June 2015.

Yet he quickly bounced back from that life-changing injury thanks to his mental toughness, something that is badly needed on the golf course.

“To be honest there weren’t really any dark times as I was fully aware from the very beginning that being a professional sportsman comes with its own risks,” reflected Kieswetter.

“Unfortunately for me my injury was a facial one, that ultimately forced me into retirement. I don’t look back with regret or pain at the experience, that wouldn’t achieve anything.

Craig Kieswetter
Craig Kieswetter helped England win the T20 World Cup back in 2010

“Injuries are part and parcel of professional sport so naturally there was some disappointment and hurt at having to retire so young with so much potential and opportunity.

“But I continue to look forward and embrace new challenges.”

Kieswetter certainly believes he can make a go of his second career and it seems others in the know agree.

While in Florida he arranged for lessons with Nick Faldo’s former coach David Leadbetter who was duly impressed.

Kieswetter told the Daily Telegraph: “It was actually Leadbetter who said: ‘Are you looking to progress with this?’

“That’s the equivalent of Graham Gooch telling Rory McIlroy he has what it takes to become a pro cricketer.”

Despite focusing on golf Kieswetter still watches cricket and remains friends with a number of the players he played alongside for England and Somerset.

He will always have the memories of being voted man-of-the-match as England won the World T20 title back in 2010, but cricket is now in his past and golf is his future.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my experience of playing on the Mena Tour,” he added. “It was a very well organised tournament and I’m excited to play a full season on the tour next year.

“The experience of playing in Equatorial Guinea was also an interesting one. The golf course was actually superb and I was extremely impressed with the layout of the course.

“But in terms of the what happens in the future, I will just take each day as it comes and enjoy the ride.”