The 25-year-old scored 34 not out at the Oval on day three, and was lucky to have a decision overturned by review after being given out by umpire Aleem Dar
KEATON JENNINGS commuted on the London Underground yesterday and now waits anxiously to discover if his England career has gone down the tube.
The Durham left-hander survived all manner of lucky escapes on the way to scoring a scratchy 34 not out on day three of the Investec Third Test.
He was dropped, edged several deliveries and given out by umpire Aleem Dar – only for the decision to be overturned on review.
The fortune cookies were certainly breaking his way and maybe, after a string of low scores, these were the escapes Jennings needs to kick-start international season.
If he adds significantly to his total on Sunday, then Jennings is sure to retain his place for next week’s Fourth Test. But, if he is out early, then his immediate future is balancing on a knife edge.
Jennings was one of seven players to use public transport from the team hotel to the Oval to avoid road closures and congestion caused by this weekend’s Ride100 cycle event.
The others were Joe Root, Stuart Broad, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Toby Roland-Jones and Dawid Malan and they plan on hopping on the Tube again.
Jennings’ first five innings in this series yielded just 44 runs and his technical flaws were being mercilessly examined by a variety of TV pundits.
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They say he is too upright, too stiff, too deep in his crease, too hard-handed and offering too much of a gate between bat and pad.
Certainly, Tom Westley, England’s debutant at No.3 looks much more composed and stylish. He added an accomplished 28 not out yesterday to the 25 he made in the first innings.
With rain washing out two-thirds of the day, England finished with 74-1 and an overall lead of 252 runs. It will be a major surprise if they are not able to force victory and take a 2-1 lead.
Seamer James Anderson, who finished with 3-25, said: “Sometimes when people go through a bad trot, you can see them physically struggling around the group.
“But Keaton has dealt with it really well. Obviously, it’s been frustrating he hasn’t scored more runs. But he got through that tricky period this evening, when Morne Morkel bowled brilliantly, and that could be what he needs to kick-start a good run of form.”
Alastair Cook was bowled by a beauty from Morkel – the 11th time the 6ft 6ins speedster has dismissed him in Test cricket – but Jennings and Westley have so far put on 44 for the second wicket.
Jennings got off the mark – and the dreaded pair – courtesy of an overthrow from Vernon Philander. On six, he was dropped by Dean Elgar at third slip, again off Philander.
Philander had spent the night in hospital on a drip because of a viral infection but was able to bat at No.11 and bowled his opening spell, before leaving the field again.
Jennings inside-edged another boundary but he managed to get away a couple of decent square cuts off Kagiso Rabada and a clip through square leg off Morkel. He was copying the example of his Durham mate Ben Stokes and batting further of his crease, trying to smother the seam movement.
Jennings was given out caught behind off Rabada but he called for DRS which confirmed there was contact with the pad but not the bat.
Earlier, South Africa saved the follow-on – although Root would probably not have enforced – thanks to a determined half-century by Temba Bavuma and some late-order resistance from Morkel.
The pair put on 47 for the ninth wicket before Morkel was snaffled by Cook at first slip and then Bavuma was caught behind, giving Roland-Jones his fifth wicket on his debut.
Anderson added: “It’s not often you see a debutant settle as quickly as Toby did and look so comfortable and confident. He’s had a good career with Middlesex and knows his game very well.
“It’s a perfect pitch for him and he’s a very intelligent cricketer and good to talk to about bowling. He definitely could go well in Australia – he has all the attributes with bounce, swing and seam.”