Ray Jennings’ son, Keaton, is being tipped to replace Alex Hales for England’s tour of Bangladesh.
The news that England opener Hales will not be touring Bangladesh for their two-Test series due to security concerns has put a number of fledgling openers on the selectors’ radar. Keaton Jennings, who has enjoyed a record-breaking season with Durham in the County Championship, is one of them.
Hales is out of form in the longest format, and whoever becomes Alastair Cook’s tenth opening partner since 2012 has the opportunity to nail down that spot. Jennings was already on the map going into the final round of matches in the Championship, but he made his ambitions clear on Monday with an unbeaten double century, becoming the first Durham batsman to hit seven centuries in a season. His run-tally currently stands at 1 510, 319 more than anyone else.
Former Australian opener Chris Rogers, currently at Somerset, believes Jennings is the man ready to take the plunge at the highest level.
‘There’s a guy who’s been a standout this year in Keaton Jennings,’ he said. ‘As an opener he has a very simple game and I like that.
‘He plays very straight, he accumulates, grinds out runs, and makes himself difficult to get out. He’s actually quite tall for an opener; he’s probably close to 6’2” and can use his reach to his advantage.
‘There’s a lot to like about him. He’s looked a different player this year to what I’ve seen of him before.
‘Whether (England selectors) want to see him back that up again (next season) who knows, but it’s been an exceptional season by him and you have to respect what he’s achieved so far.’
Jennings captained the South Africa U19 side on their tour of England in 2011, and made his first-class debut for Gauteng against Free State in December 2011. He has British citizenship from his mother, who comes from Sunderland. He made the move to England in 2012, and has no intentions of returning to his country of birth.
‘There are a lot of reasons why I have come over here, but you get a good opportunity in the county system. I am all for fairness and if you’re not good enough you can hold your hands up and accept you are not good enough. It was a difficult choice, but in terms of my career I think it was the right one and my dad is backing me 100%.’
‘There’s no chance of me going back to South Africa. I decided to make a career here. This is my home now and I’m ready to play for England if they want me.’
Jennings would continue a strong trend of South Africans playing for England, with Nick Compton the last Saffa to have played Tests for the Three Lions, while Jason Roy has become a part of the furniture in the ODI setup.
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