Jennings feels 'very English' despite accent


Keaton Jennings said he feels "very English" and thinks his decision to turn his back on South Africa has been vindicated as he stands on the brink of an England debut this week.

Transvaal-born batsman Jennings decided to move to England five years ago to pursue a career in county cricket, with a view to earning international recognition.

The 24-year-old opening batsman was rewarded for an outstanding domestic season with a maiden England call-up ahead of the fourth Test in India, following a hand injury sustained by Haseeb Hameed.

Jennings is in line to partner captain Alastair Cook in Mumbai and the left-hander is full of pride at the prospect of representing his adopted country.

"I sat down with my dad [ex-South Africa coach Ray Jennings] and I felt it would be my best opportunity to live my dream in the UK," the former South Africa Under-19 captain said of his decision to switch allegiances.

"And I'm very glad as I sit here now to have made that hard decision. The opportunity, the professionalism - I can't put my exact finger on it - but there was a welcome feeling, and feeling loved, and being pushed as well."

Jennings added: "Growing up, I went to the same school as Graeme Smith [the former Proteas captain] - King Edward VII [in Johannesburg],

"I finished and came over to England straight away in April 2011 and then from there tried to play my way into English cricket.

"The guys up north made me feel really welcome and helped me settle down and pave the way for life in the UK. At the moment I'm feeling very comfortable and very English, despite my accent.

"I bought a nice little two-bed flat in Chester-le-Street a couple of years ago. I've got a local pub as well. That made me feel part of the furniture essentially. I'm blessed that they've welcomed me with open arms."

England trail 2-0 and must win the fourth Test to stay alive in the five-match series, so Jennings is hoping to catch India off guard.

"Hopefully we can land a few haymakers and throw some punches back." he said.