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Keaton Jennings, England cricket’s latest opener, slams ton on Wankhede debut

Keaton Jennings is Alastair Cook’s 11th opening partner as he made his Test debut for England in the Wankhede Test against India. The left-handed Jennings impressed with a classy century

cricket Updated: Dec 09, 2016 09:10 IST
Keaton Jennings,jennings,ray jennings
Keaton Jennings became the third England player to score a century on debut in India.(Photo by: Deepak Malik/ BCCI/ SPORTZPICS)

Keaton Jennings has come like a whiff of fresh air from the Arabian Sea for the England team.

Jennings made an impressive debut, becoming only the eighth England player to score a century on debut overseas and he is the third English player to do it in India.

In the last four years, Cook has batted with 11 opening partners since the retirement of Andrew Strauss in 2012.

In the ongoing series against India, he opened with 19-year-old Haseeb Hameed and then Joe Root.

At Wankhede, Cook had a new opening partner in the 24-year-old Jennings.

So who exactly is Keaton Jennings?

The Johannesburg-born is the son of Ray Jennings, South Africa’s coach in 2004. Ray has also coached the IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Jennings junior started his career as a 19-year-old playing for Gauteng in South Africa. After success in the 2011/12 season, the left-hander moved to Durham and steadily moved up the ranks. He was part of the 2013 County Championship winning team and it was a good year for him, scoring 707 runs in 14 games

However, Jennings’ breakthrough year came in 2016 when he became the leading run-getter in the 2016 County Championships. He smashed 1548 runs in 16 games at an average of 64.5 with seven hundreds.

Although Durham were relegated, Jennings’ performance captured the eye of the selectors.

Jennings continued his magnificent form in the Domestic Twenty20 competition where he blasted 348 runs at an average of 43.5 and a strike-rate of 126. All these performances ensured an England spot was there for the taking in the near future.

“I kind of woke up at five in the morning, thinking I would have missed my bus, so I jumped up off the bed trying to panic and see where everything was and settle myself. But yes, it’s a dream come true. It’s surreal that it has come on debut,” said Jennings.

“It was a bit of tennis-ball bounce with the new ball. I suppose you don’t really know how you play it; you ride it or play underneath it. Thankfully, it hit my hand and went out. So you have a little bit of luck but I suppose I am really thankful that the day has gone the way it has and I ended it with a hundred.

“But yes, when the ball leapt up to the gully, my heart was in my mouth, you got a naught in your first innings,” said Jennings.

The aftereffects of that dropped catch were that Jennings only got positive in his approach. He slammed the next couple of balls off Yadav to the boundary and only went from strength to strength thereon.

First Published: Dec 08, 2016 12:05 IST