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Keaton Jennings

'I need to get some runs' – Keaton Jennings keeps a simple mantra

England news

Although one of the two days of England's second warm-up clash against Sri Lanka Board XI was washed out, there was enough time for opening bat Keaton Jennings to carve out a gritty 45.

Jennings, who did not have the best Test series against India at home, was persisted with for the away Tests against Sri Lanka, the first of which begins in Galle on 6 November. And during a period when two of the top four departed for ducks and the third for 19, Jennings kept his head.

He hit seven boundaries in his 95-ball knock and added 80 runs with Ben Stokes, who got a breezy 53 off 58, for the fourth wicket. England declared their innings on 210/6 and picked up seven opposition wickets before stumps were drawn.

Jennings was the third highest scorer in the England innings but said the knock didn't quite make him feel different about himself.

"I wouldn't say it felt better," he said. "It's nice to get a couple of runs underneath your belt. At the end of the day, Tuesday becomes crunch time for everyone. Regardless how many runs you've got in the last two years, really. Tuesday's the day you want to perform."

Just 192 runs from 10 innings last summer as Alastair Cook's batting partner had led to some sections doubting Jennings' place in the XI but the 26-year-old was never flustered. "Personally, I feel in a very good place," he remarked.

"I think when you look at a guy like Alastair Cook, who has played 160-odd games on the bounce, his place was up for discussion at the end of last season.

"I don't think your place is ever not under discussion. That's the brutal world of Test cricket. I'm honoured to be here. I'm hugely privileged and I give my best shot every day, whether I get selected or not. I try and arrive with a smile on my face and give it my best crack."

Jennings has fond memories of Asia, though, having made his Test debut against India in 2016 and scored a century in his first Test innings, in Mumbai. Now, he is ready to forge a new opening partnership, most likely with newcomer Rory Burns.

Rory Burns made 68 in the recent warm-up game, while Keaton Jennings scored a combined 17 from two innings
Rory Burns made 68 in the recent warm-up game, while Keaton Jennings scored a combined 17 from two innings

"I think I'm probably a better person. I think there's a lot of things you go through being in this Test bubble," Jennings said, putting things into perspective. "I've put in a lot of things in my life to really stabilise myself.

"Whether it makes you a better player - I don't know. That's up to performances to talk for. I need to get some runs. That's the bottom line."

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