KEATON JENNINGS has promised his full support to England’s incumbent openers Dom Sibley and Zak Crawley after admitting his own struggles with the ‘absolute battering’ he received from critics.
Jennings has travelled with the rest of Joe Root’s Test squad to Colombo, fresh from the honour of captaining England Lions to their first ever victory over Australia A in Melbourne last week.
His presence on the trip owes much to Rory Burns’ ongoing ankle injury — without which he might still be leading the second string Down Under — but also to his own track record on the spinning pitches of the sub-continent.
Jennings scored a century in Mumbai on debut and swept his way to a career-best 146 not out in Galle on England’s 2018 tour of Sri Lanka.
The 27-year-old is theoretically in competition for a top-order spot with both Sibley and Crawley, who impressed in the recent 3-1 victory over South Africa and joined Jennings on the Lions trip.
But Jennings said: ‘It’s almost like the old opening batter’s union; only you know the pressure they are feeling and what they are going through.
‘Whether I get the chance or not, I’m here to help England win the series. If I play, that’s awesome. If I end up mixing electrolyte drinks, then I’ll do that.
‘You cannot underestimate the level of support everyone offers each other in that dressing room.’
Of his critics, Jennings added: ‘I’ve had an absolute battering at times. The sport section can be hard reading. But there are going to be times when you see things you don’t want to see or hear things in the street — that’s the life I’ve chosen. I’ve got to make sure I’m big enough to know where my values are.
‘I don’t want to run away from my failures. I have no issue being open and honest if it lets me put my head on the pillow at night. If a youngster reads this, sees that someone who plays for England struggles with this stuff, it might help them learn to cope.’