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Keaton Jennings not concerned about facing South Africa in July Test series

Keaton Jennings, who is the son of former South Africa wicketkeeper Ray Jennings, said that he will not feel “weird” facing the South Africans in the Test series in July.

cricket Updated: Jan 01, 2017 12:44 IST
Keaton Jennings,England cricket team,South Africa cricket team
Keaton Jennings smashed a century on debut as he shone through for England in the recently concluded Test series against India which Alastair Cook’s team lost 4-0.(Photo by: BCCI)

England opener Keaton Jennings is not fussed about the possibility of facing his fellow South Africans in a Test series next July, he told The Times.

The 24-year-old -- son of former South Africa wicketkeeper and coach Ray Jennings -- added that should he be selected, he is prepared for a lot of attention being focused on him.

Barring a drop in form for his county Durham -- who have been relegated to the second tier after being bailed-out by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) -- he should be selected after making a century on his debut in the recent fourth Test against India in Mumbai and a half century in the fifth Test in Chennai.

His performances were a rare highlight in the series which England lost 4-0 and cast doubt on whether his opening partner Alastair Cook will remain as captain.

“I don’t think it will feel weird playing against South Africa, but I know that the intensity around that will be heightened,” said Jennings, who will probably also face some old team-mates from the Gauteng Province side whom he played for in 2011 and in the same year skippered the South Africa Under-19 side on a tour of England.

Read More | How to play in India, dad? England rookie Keaton Jennings asks Ray Jennings

“There will be all the chat again about my nationality. And if I do play I will have to make sure I handle that and be calm, settled and focused.”

Jennings, who is playing for his ‘home county’ as his mother hails from Sunderland in the north east of England, said he is prepared to drop down the order should his services not be required to open.

“I’d be happy to bat at No 10 and be a fielder,” said Jennings, who will skipper the England second team squad the Lions on their tour of Sri Lanka next month.

“Just to have the opportunity to play Test cricket, whether I’m playing in my preferred role or something slightly out of the norm. If the opportunity is there in July to bat at No 3 and that is what (England coach) Trevor Bayliss or Cook want me to do then I will bite their hand off.”

  • Keaton Jennings was born in Johannesburg and played for Gauteng at the start
  • Keaton Jennings scored a century on debut and a fifty in his next Test against India
  • Keaton is the son of former South Africa wicketkeeper and coach Ray Jennings

Jennings, who qualified for England through the old four year residency rule, admitted he had been taken aback by some of the reaction to his agreeing to represent England and not the Proteas.

“I think social media gives people an opportunity to voice opinions that I don’t really want to read,” he said.

“Social media is great but people voice their opinions in the wrong way sometimes. There was a backlash to my background but mostly I have had a lot of support.”

Jennings protests that it is not South Africa which he considers his home but Durham.

“South Africa isn’t home any more actually,” said Jennings, who is also studying for an accountancy degree.

“My mum and dad said the other day about me ‘going back to the UK’ and I corrected them. ‘No. I am going home, that’s my home,’ I said. The northeast of England is where I have bought property and where my local pub is and I have my usual order in the local pub and I know my way around. When I come back to South Africa now, I drive round using GPS because I don’t know my way,” Jennings added.

First Published: Jan 01, 2017 12:44 IST