Keaton Jennings hits debut century as England uncover another star
Haseeb Hameed's replacement does even better than the teenager and lands a stunning ton in his first innings
Keaton Jennings scored a century on his debut as England's cricketers finished the first day of the fourth Test against India in Mumbai on 288 for five.
The 24-year-old Durham player, flown in to replace the injured Haseeb Hameed, opened the innings alongside Alastair Cook – the last England opener to score a hundred on his first outing, a feat he achieved in 2006.
The last England batsman to score a century on debut was Jonathan Trott in 2009, but no one has done so on the first day of a Test since Billy Griffith in 1948.
Jennings would have had very different memories of his first Test innings if he had not been dropped on nought by Karun Nair at gully off Umesh Yadav. He also survived an LBW review when on ten.
But he was assured after that, as he and Cook put on 99 for the first wicket and he shared a 94-run stand with Moeen Ali for the third, before both fell in the space of three balls.
The South African-born batsman even brought up his ton with a reverse sweep.
Jennings was playing his first innings in India and the deck seemed stacked against him, says Alagappan Muthu of Cricinfo. But he was undeterred. "His cover drives were effortless. His pulls were a warning. And his soft hands against spin were a revelation," writes Muthu.
England should be grateful, says the Daily Telegraph: "On a pitch already providing significant assistance for the spinners, Jennings had arguably done plenty already to give England the opportunity at least to cement a telling advantage."
The benefits are likely to be felt long after this Test. Jennings was only given his chance after injury to fellow breakthrough start Hameed, who was forced out of the tour with a broken finger, although he was in Mumbai to watch.
"After four years of searching in vain for viable opening options, England appear to have stumbled upon two at once," says Chris Stocks in The Times. "Where Jennings fits in when Hameed returns to fitness next summer remains to be seen.
"Surely the 19-year-old Lancashire opener comes straight back into the team. But if Jennings continues to impress during the remainder of this match and series, might he be the long-term option for number three? [Joe] Root moved up to that position last summer but that only produced another problem at number four."
Jennings is also the latest in a long line of players born in South Africa to represent England.
His father, Ray, is a former South Africa coach and Keaton only made the change when he joined Durham in 2012, the summer after he captained the South African Under-19 team on a tour of England.
English cricket fans will not be surprised by his success. "Four of the last five England batsmen to make centuries on debut have been born in South Africa: Andrew Strauss, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Jonathan Trott," says the BBC.