Mumbai - Batsman
Keaton Jennings will make his Test debut against India on Thursday,
becoming the latest South Africa-born cricketer to pull on an England
jersey, captain Alastair Cook announced.
"Yeah he is going to play. He's going to open the batting. It will be
a very special day for him tomorrow," Cook said in Mumbai on Wednesday
before the start of the fourth Test.
Jennings, who was born in Johannesburg and captained the Proteas
under-19s, was a late call-up for England's two remaining must-win
matches after opener Haseeb Hameed injured his hand during the third
Cook said he was impressed by what he had seen of Jennings since the
tall left-hander joined up with the squad in Dubai a few days ago.
"I'd never met him properly. He seems a really good guy. He's got a
great head on his shoulders and mentally I think he’s a very strong
player so I wish him all the best," said Cook.
Jennings, whose mother is English, moved to England in 2011 after
leaving school, committing himself to four years there so he could
become eligible to play for the national side.
The left-hander, whose father Ray played for South Africa during the
apartheid era, decided to switch allegiance to further his international
career in a similar move to Kevin Pietersen in the early 2000s.
Other recent England players to be born in South Africa include
Cook's predecessor as captain Andrew Strauss and the former wicketkeeper
Players who were born abroad are eligible to play for England after
spending four years playing English county cricket, a policy that has
attracted controversy in some quarters.
Cook said 19-year-old Hameed's
injury was disappointing considering his impressive displays during the
tour but urged Jennings, who plays domestic cricket for Durham, to grab
his opportunity with both hands.
"If Keats (Jennings) comes in and does well again then it's only
adding to our top order players, which would be good," the skipper told
England trail 2-0 in the five-match series after a thumping
eight-wicket loss in Mohali at the end of November. Anything less than a
victory in Mumbai would see India seal the Test series.
Cook said it was "50/50" whether fast bowler Stuart Broad would
recover from a strained tendon in time. With nothing to lose, his side
intended to bat more aggressively, he said.
The captain, who recently became a father for a second time, also
believes England will have reaped the benefits of their few days' rest
and relaxation in Dubai coming into the match.
"Certainly the guys do feel re-energised. When you have five days off
like that on a long tour, mentally and physically I think it's done the
players a world of good," he said.
"For me personally it was great to see my family. After those three
games in three weeks it was a good time to get out and not really worry
about cricket and worry about changing nappies."