England vs South Africa: Joe Root backs Keaton Jennings to emerge from slump

AFP, Aug, 04 2017

Manchester: England captain Joe Root believes Keaton Jennings' calm approach will stand him in good stead as he battles to come through a tricky period in his fledgeling Test career.

The opener made a century on his England debut against India at Mumbai in December.

England's Keaton Jennings reacts as he walks back to the pavilion after losing his wicket for 48 during play on day 4 of the third Test match between England and South Africa at The Oval cricket ground in London on July 30, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Glyn KIRK / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. NO ASSOCIATION WITH DIRECT COMPETITOR OF SPONSOR, PARTNER, OR SUPPLIER OF THE ECB

File photo of Keaton Jennings. AFP

But his subsequent nine Test innings have yielded just one fifty.

Jennings has found life particularly tough during the ongoing Test series at home to his native South Africa, with two ducks in six innings.

But he heads into Friday's fourth Test at Old Trafford having made a morale-boosting 48 in difficult conditions during the second innings of England's 239-run win over South Africa at The Oval that left the hosts 2-1 up with one to play.

It was a timely knock with the 25-year-old under pressure for his place ahead of England's Ashes tour of Australia.

But at the very least the son of Ray Jennings, South Africa's isolation era wicket-keeper and later a caretaker national coach, appears to have retained his place at Old Trafford.

"He's a very level-headed guy, he's got a very strong character and throughout he's been very much the same in the way he's approached his training and in each game as well," Root said of Jennings at Old Trafford on Thursday.

"It's great to see someone so light of experience be very mature and go about it in the right way," added Root of Jennings, qualified for England through his mother and via residence.

"The way he played in that second innings was extremely great to see, I'm pleased that he's been able to get a score and hopefully that'll lead to some more runs this week."

Johannesburg-born and raised Jennings is averaging just a touch over 15 against the Proteas, with his technique coming under severe analysis from several pundits.

"It's tough, and that's why it's called Test cricket, it can be a very hard thing to break into," said Root.

"You come from county cricket where there's not a huge amount of exposure to the media and external scrutiny — and you have to get your head around it pretty quickly," the star batsman added.

"It is a test of character, it's a test of skill."

'World-class' Philander

Part of that test this series has been facing bowlers of the calibre of accurate seamer Vernon Philander, whom the Proteas hope will be fully fit after he was laid low with a mystery stomach illness at The Oval.

"He's a world-class bowler and puts the ball in good areas," said Root of Philander.

"Throughout this series, there have been surfaces that have been more bowler-friendly and he obviously poses a big threat to us and we don't take him lightly.

"We will make sure we do our homework on him if you like and we are fully prepared for all the challenges the whole attack brings.

"I think it's wrong to single out individuals — you know on any given day any one of those guys can put in good performances."

Heavy rain in Manchester had made assessing pitch conditions difficult, with heat lamps used to dry sections of the outfield.

But Root, one match away from victory in his first series as England captain, said: "There's been a lot of chat about the weather around, but most importantly all we need to focus on is making sure we look to win this game."

But the bad weather meant Root felt unable to reveal if England would stick with the same XI.

"It (the wicket) was under-prepared and a lot can change in the next 24 hours, so we'll make a judgement on the side tomorrow (Friday)."

Published Date: Aug 04, 2017 | Updated Date: Aug 04, 2017



Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 4493 125
2 South Africa 3395 110
3 England 4097 105
4 Australia 3087 100
5 New Zealand 3114 97
Rank Team Points Rating
1 South Africa 5957 119
2 Australia 5505 117
3 India 4717 115
4 England 5645 113
5 New Zealand 5123 111
Rank Team Points Rating
1 New Zealand 1625 125
2 England 1962 123
3 Pakistan 2417 121
4 West Indies 2222 117
5 India 2183 115