Keaton Jennings: Trevor Bayliss hints that Ashes opening berth is still wide open

Keaton Jennings
Jennings has scored 112, 0, 1, 54, 8, 33, 0, 3, 0 and 48 in his 10 Test innings to date

England coach Trevor Bayliss has hinted that Keaton Jennings is not yet secure in his place as Alastair Cook's opening partner for this winter's Ashes.

Asked after Monday's 239-run win over South Africa at The Oval if he had any "issues or worries" over who might partner Cook in the first Test at Brisbane in November, Bayliss told BBC Sport: "It could be two or three guys.

"When we go to Australia, we'll probably take more than a couple of openers, so it could be a number of those guys get a look-in."

Jennings averages 15.3 in his last six Test innings, despite making 48 in the second innings against the Proteas, whose former skipper Graeme Smith has said that an Ashes series down under might be "quite a scary place" for the Durham batsman.

The left-hander has, however, retained his place in an unchanged squad for the fourth Test against South Africa at Old Trafford.

Middlesex fast bowler Steven Finn will remain with the squad after replacing the injured Mark Wood on the eve of the third Test. Spinner Liam Dawson makes up the 13.

Coach wants 'consistency' from newcomers

Two of England's three debutants at The Oval earned Bayliss's praise, with Tom Westley making 25 and 59 at number three, while seamer Toby Roland-Jones finished with match figures of 8-129, also hitting three sixes in batting cameos of 25 and 23 not out.

"Eight wickets and runs, averaging 48, he probably thinks Test cricket is an easy game. They were good conditions, but you've got to be able to put the ball in the right area," Bayliss said of Roland-Jones.

"Tom Westley had a good mental approach to the game, didn't look flustered and struck the ball nicely. Again, we've seen that before, let's hope we're talking the same in 10, 15 or 20 Tests."

Westley and fellow debutant Dawid Malan, who made one and 10 at The Oval, are among a number of specialist batsmen who have been tried since England surrendered the Ashes in 2013-14 - with Sam Robson, Adam Lyth, Alex Hales, James Vince, Ben Duckett and Haseeb Hameed all tried and discarded since then.

Bayliss added: "As everyone's aware, we've been looking for two or three batters, and we think we've found a few guys, but it's about putting those performances together in a consistent manner, rather than just once or twice and then falling away.

"It's about working out what's needed at this level and then coming back stronger."

Moeen Ali leads England off at The Oval
Moeen removed centurion Dean Elgar, Kagiso Rabada and Morne Morkel; for his hat-trick

Root welcomes Moeen hat-trick

Meanwhile, captain Joe Root praised spinner Moeen Ali, who took the 43rd hat-trick in Test cricket history - and the first when all three victims have been left-handers - to wrap up victory by mid-afternoon.

"It was a special way to finish, quite a fitting way to finish the 100th Test, here, and summed up a really good week for us," Root said.

"There was a bit of rough there, but on a wicket not offering a lot of spin, Moeen showed a lot of skill and nous to have an effect on a wicket which was getting better and better as the game went on."

There had been plenty of media comment after Bayliss said Moeen was the side's "second spinner", even after his 10-wicket haul in the first Test at Lord's, but he thrived at The Oval after fellow spinner Liam Dawson was dropped.

And Root added: "We've always seen him as a batter in our team, he's a vital part of our batting line-up. But this should give him a lot of confidence that when we need to take wickets in the fourth innings of a Test match, he's able to do it."

Moeen - who revealed it was his first hat-trick in any form of cricket - said: "Personally, I always enjoyed having another spinner bowling in tandem as it does take a bit of pressure off.

"But I've got 40 Tests under my belt now. As long as we're winning, that's the most important thing.

"I've scored a few hat-tricks in football, but this is a different sort of feeling."

Reflecting on the hat-trick ball, he added: "I was trying to stay as relaxed as much as I can - Broady told me this was the best opportunity I'd ever get with a left-hander, Morne Morkel, at number 11, so I just tried to hold my composure and bowl as straight as I could."

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