Ahead of the start of the third test between England and South Africa on Thursday, many a column inch has been devoted to the apparent fragility of England’s batting line-up and discussion has inevitably turned to whether personnel changes are necessary. In particular, questions have been asked about whether England should persevere with 25 year-old opener Keaton Jennings, whose run totals of 8, 33, 0 and 3 in the first two tests have not convinced his critics that he is the right man to accompany Alastair Cook to the crease.
Jennings will know better than anyone else that he will have to improve his run tally in order to be certain of his place in the side. Keeping that place will surely be incentive enough for Jennings to put in a strong performance against the Proteas but, if he needed any additional motivation, Jennings will surely wish to show the South Africans what they are missing.
Jennings was born in Johannesburg, South Africa on 19 June 1992. He is the latest in a line of an impressive South African cricket dynasty – he is the son of Ray Jennings, the former South African test cricketer and coach, while his uncle (Kenneth Jennings) and brother (Dylan Jennings) both played first class cricket in South Africa. Keaton himself has continued the family tradition, making his first-class debut for Gauteng in December 2011 against Free State, before captaining the South Africa Under-19 cricket team on its tour of England in 2011.
While Jennings could have made himself available for selection by South Africa at international level, in 2012 he took the decision to represent England instead. Jennings has explained the decision as follows:
“I have always said since I was small that if I make it in cricket that is brilliant, if I don’t then I want to know I have given it my best shot. At the time I sat down with my Dad and I felt it would be my best opportunity to live my dream in the UK and I’m very glad as I sit here now to have made that hard decision.”
While Jennings is certainly not the first South African-born cricketer to play for England, his route to international cricket represents an interesting case study on the application of the relevant eligibility criteria. Continue Reading