Former SA U19 captain Keaton Jennings became the latest member of an exclusive club, scoring a century in his Test debut.
Jennings, son of Ray, the former Transvaal keeper and SA coach, has waited four years for the opportunity to represent England, his adopted country, but when it came, he seized it with both hands with a measured hundred on day one of the fourth Test against India at Mumbai.
He was called up after the latest of Alistair Cook’s many opening partners, Haseeb Hameed, injured a finger while fielding in the third Test.
Jennings and Cook put on 99 for the first wicket, at almost four an over, until Cook was undone by Ravindra Jadeja on 46. Jennings played an almost flawless innings, unsettling the spinners with his sweeps, before bringing up the magical number with a perfect reverse sweep off Jayant Yadav for his 12th four, off 186 balls. He went on to 112, when he edged to deep gully off Ravi Ashwin.
Jennings thus became the 102nd batsman to score a hundred on debut, a record stretching back to 1877. Ironically, last one was Stephen Cook, who ran up his hundred for the Proteas against England in January 2016; an eerie mirror of the days when Jennings and Cook seniors played side by side in the dreaded Mean Machine under Clive Rice. The last England player to achieve the feat was South Africa’s Jonathan Trott, against Australia in 2009.
Jennings departed South Africa four years ago, setting himself up at Durham on the back of his mother’s British citizenship. He has constantly excelled in difficult circumstances at Chester-le-Street.
Now 24, he made his Durham debut in 2012. Last year he reached his peak when he was named as the County Championship Player of the Year by the Cricket Writers’ Club. It recognised a season in which he had been the leading run-scorer in the competition with 1 548 runs at an average of 64.5 with seven hundreds, including a double century against Yorkshire.
Yet another one slips through our system. Well played Keaton Jennings.????
— Jacques Kallis (@jacqueskallis75) December 8, 2016
Made in South Africa, Michael! https://t.co/MBk4GFniVY
— KP (@KP24) December 8, 2016
Photo: England Cricket/Twitter