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Keaton Jennings taking nothing for granted with England

Jennings is in pole position to either partner Alastair Cook or slot in at three for the first Test of the summer against South Africa in July.

CRICKET 15/03/17 15:26
Keaton Jennings taking nothing for granted with England

Keaton Jennings will not allow complacency to creep in as he bids to retain his England place this summer but neither is he putting any extra pressure on himself to replicate his breakthrough year.

Twelve months ago, Jennings could not be certain of his spot in the Durham line-up but put himself in contention for England selection – having completed a residency period – after an incredible county season.

An injury to Haseeb Hameed midway through the India tour opened up a top-order vacancy and he made immediate hay after being parachuted in for the final two Tests, registering a memorable ton in his debut international innings in Mumbai.

A gutsy half-century in Chennai followed and he ended the tour in pole position to either partner Alastair Cook or slot in at three for the first Test of the summer against South Africa, the country where he was born and bred, in July.

But the 24-year-old told Press Association Sport: “You can’t take too much granted in life, probably taxes are the only thing you can take for granted.

“At the end of the day that’s three or four months away, there’s a lot of cricket to be played before that point and a lot can happen in the season and in those months. I’ll try to put the performances on the board that will get you recognised. Hopefully I can just get through my routine and really enjoy my cricket like I did last year.”

And what a year it was. Having been dropped by Durham towards the end of the 2015 campaign, he marked his return the following season in sensational style with 1,548 Specsavers County Championship runs at an average of 64.5 with seven centuries, including a double hundred against Yorkshire.

It is a lofty benchmark and expectations will be on the left-hander to excel once more following Durham’s relegation to Division Two as well as established batting duo Scott Borthwick and Mark Stoneman leaving for Surrey.

But asked whether he is feeling the heat to produce the goods again, he said: “Not really. I’m just trying to get through the same sort of process and the same kind of routine that I went through last year.”

Either side of his India trip, Jennings captained England Lions and is currently in Dubai, where he will lead the North in the inaugural North v South series which begins on Friday.

The added responsibility has led to suggestions that he is being groomed long-term for a leadership role in the future. But Jennings is merely focused on establishing himself in the England set-up first, looking to new Test captain Joe Root as an example of what can be achieved.

He added: “To captain your country is the biggest honour. If the opportunity ever came up then that would be absolutely awesome. But you need to try to establish yourself as a player first. You look at a guy like Joe Root, he’s averaging over 50, and he’s really established himself as a cricketer.”