The first thing that Keaton Jennings did after he was selected as replacement for injured Haseeb Hameed for England’s remaining two Tests against India, was to call up his father father-cum-coach Ray Jennings, the former coach of South Africa national team.
Keaton wanted advice from Ray as he is in line to make this Three Lions debut at the Wankhede Stadium in the fourth Test partnering skipper Alastair Cook.
What Jennings senior, who has a sizeable experience of the Indian playing conditions as a former Royal Challengers coach, said was unexpected.
“He just told me to drink a lot of water and make sure that they are closed bottles. That’s it. He told me to enjoy the process and the culture. I came to India in 2009 for the IPL with my dad as a tourist. It was a very fascinating experience for me,” said Jennings ahead of the fourth Test.
England have to win at Wankhede to keep their hopes to levelling the five-Test series alive.
Jennings, who led the South Africa U-19 while he was in school, took the decision represent England thereafter. He completed his four-year qualification mark this March to be eligible for the national side.
Keaton says his experience has been very pleasant despite his Proteas accent. “The decision to move to the UK was a slow one. I just started feeling very welcoming and comfortable with time. I feel very English as well despite accent,” Jennings laughed.
“I guess the more time you spent, the more local you become. I am blessed that they (England) have been very welcoming.
“Last 12 hours have been almost unreal. It was satisfying to know my teammates,” said Jennings, who had a terrific campaign with Durham where he scored 1548 runs and slammed Seven tons.
Alastair Cook would look up to Jennings to provide same solidity as Hameed brought in at the top. “I won’t try to change anything. I will play positively if the ball is in my area. Pressure is a privilege as my dad always says,” said Jennings.