De­spite the ac­cent, I feel English: Jen­nings

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Bats­man Keaton Jen­nings was born and bred in South Africa and cap­tained the Proteas un­der-19s but in­sisted yes­ter­day ahead of his ex­pected Eng­land de­but that he feels “very English”.

The 24-year-old opener is tipped to make his in­ter­na­tional bow for his adopted coun­try in Eng­land’s do-or-die fourth Test against In­dia, which starts at the Wankhede Sta­dium in Mumbai tomorrow. The tall left-han­der was a late call-up for Eng­land’s two re­main­ing must-win matches af­ter Haseeb Hameed in­jured his hand dur­ing the third Test and was ruled out of the rest of the series. Jen­nings said join­ing up with his new team­mates had been “sur­real” but that he would rel­ish the op­por­tu­nity to open the bat­ting with cap­tain Alas­tair Cook this week if picked.

“At the mo­ment I’m feel­ing very com­fort­able and very English, de­spite my ac­cent,” he joked to re­porters at a news con­fer­ence fol­low­ing a train­ing ses­sion in In­dia’s fi­nan­cial cap­i­tal. Jen­nings, whose mother is English, was born in Johannesburg and went on to cap­tain South Africa at un­der-19 level.

But af­ter leav­ing school he moved to Eng­land in 2011, com­mit­ting him­self to four years there so he could be­come el­i­gi­ble to play for the na­tional side.

“The op­por­tu­nity, the pro­fes­sion­al­ism, I don’t know if I can put my ex­act fin­ger on it but there was a com­bi­na­tion of feel­ing re­ally wel­come, feel­ing loved, feel­ing pushed as well,” he said of his de­ci­sion to make him­self avail­able for Eng­land in­stead of South Africa.

His im­pres­sive scor­ing for Durham cap­tured the at­ten­tion of Eng­land’s se­lec­tors and Jen­nings, who owns a house in the north­east English town, says he feels very much set­tled in his new life. “I sup­pose the more time you spend in the coun­try the more you feel lo­cal. I’m blessed that they’ve wel­comed me with open arms,” he said. Eng­land trail 2-0 in the five-match series and any­thing less than a vic­tory would see In­dia seal the rub­ber. Jen­nings, how­ever, wel­comes the pres­sure. “I have al­ways been taught that pres­sure is a priv­i­lege. It’s the sort of a thing my dad tried to in­fuse into me as a kid,” said Jen­nings, whose fa­ther Ray played for South Africa dur­ing the apartheid era. “I like to think that I bring pos­i­tive en­ergy and a smile to the group. I am gen­er­ally quite a happy guy. We’re 2-0 down and it’s a tough po­si­tion. Hope­fully we can throw a few jibes and throw some punches back,” he added.— AFP

MUMBAI: In­dian ground­staff scrub the sur­face of the pitch af­ter the team train­ing ses­sions at the Wankhede sta­dium ahead of the fourth Test cricket match between In­dia and Eng­land in Mumbai yes­ter­day. — AFP

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