India v England: Keaton Jennings thanks England after century on international debut

Keaton Jennings
Keaton Jennings became the 19th England batsman to make a century on Test debut

South Africa-born Keaton Jennings thanked England for giving him a chance after he made a century on his debut in the fourth Test against India.

The 24-year-old opener top scored with 112 as England ended day one on 288-5.

The Durham batsman, whose mother was born in Sunderland, became eligible to play for England in 2016 after serving a four-year qualification period.

"England and the ECB have given me the opportunity to try to live my dream," he told BBC Test Match Special.

"I'm very thankful to England and the guys that put me in the position I am today.

"As soon as I came over I knew I wanted to play, but when you're playing county cricket you have to focus your mind on scoring runs."

Jennings made 1,548 first-class runs for Durham last season, including seven centuries, and was named in the England Lions squad in September.

He was captaining the Lions in Dubai last month when called up to the senior squad as a replacement for the injured Haseeb Hameed.

"If someone had said to me at the end of September you'd score as many runs as you have, and have the opportunity with the Lions, I would have snapped their hand off," Jennings added.

"If someone said to me there would be a Test hundred waiting a couple of weeks later, I would have jumped all over it.

"It's been a surreal seven, eight months. To top it off the way with a Test cap and Test hundred, it's the best Christmas present I could get really."

As Jennings made his century, former South Africa captain Jacques Kallis said on Twitter: "Yet another one slips through our system. Well played Keaton Jennings."

Of the last five England players to make a century on Test debut, Jennings is the fourth to have been born in South Africa, with Alastair Cook's hundred against India in 2006 the exception:

  • Andrew Strauss (born in Johannesburg, moved to England aged six): 112 v New Zealand, Lord's, May 2004
  • Matt Prior (born in Johannesburg, moved to England aged 11): 126 v West Indies, Lord's, May 2004
  • Jonathan Trott (born in Cape Town, captained South Africa U19s): 119 v Australia, The Oval, August 2009
  • Keaton Jennings (born in Johannesburg, moved to England in 2012): 112 v India, Mumbai, December 2016

Lots of praise but not everyone was happy...

There was plenty of reaction to the Durham batsmen's hundred, much of it focusing on his South African upbringing:

Michael Vaughan tweet
Former Yorkshire captain and Test Match Special commentator Michael Vaughan was quick to praise a fellow northerner
Kevin Pietersen tweet
...which prompted former England batsman Kevin Pietersen - himself brought up in Natal - to challenge Vaughan's claim
Jacques Kallis tweet
Ex-South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis bemoaned his country's inability to hold on to talented youngsters
VVS Laxman tweet
Former India batsman VVS Laxman focused on Jennings' play

'You've got to pick your best players'

BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew: "The first thing to make clear about Jennings, who was born and brought up in South Africa and captained their under-19s, is that he is eligible to play for England.

"The selectors do like the look of Jennings, ahead of Middlesex's Nick Gubbins. That's the debate - should they have gone for Gubbins first, because he has come through the English system or do you go with somebody who has been captain of South Africa's U19s? It's a very difficult debate."

Former England captain Michael Vaughan: "It looks to me that they've found someone special. You've got pick your best players - the best that are available. We've had plenty over the years."

Former England batsman Geoffrey Boycott: "Keaton Jennings was a big plus for England. He looked very much at ease. He didn't do anything silly, he just waited for the bad ball and played immaculately."

Billy Griffith
The last England player to make a debut hundred in his first Test innings abroad was Billy Griffith against West Indies in 1948

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