Skipper Root backs Jennings to fire

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England captain Joe Root has backed under pressure opener Keaton Jennings to come good in the Old Trafford Test against South Africa.

Jennings has yet to make a meaningful contribution with the bat in this series with his highest score being his 48 in the second innings at the Oval.

The 25-year-old has impressed the skipper with his commitment in training and his attitude towards his struggles.

Root said: “He’s a very level-headed guy, he’s got a very strong character and throughout he’s been very much the same in the way he’s approached his training and in each game as well. It’s great to see someone so light of experience be very mature and go about it in the right way.

“The way he played in that second innings was extremely great to see, I’m pleased that he’s been able to get a score and hopefully that’ll lead into some more runs this week.”

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The skipper conceded that many players struggle making the step up from first class cricket to the game’s ultimate form and Jennings has found his technique tested by the Proteas seamers during this series.

Root went on: “It’s tough, and that’s why it’s called Test cricket, it can be a very hard thing to break into. You come from county cricket where there’s not a huge amount of exposure to the media and external scrutiny – and you have to get your head around it pretty quickly. It is a test of character, it’s a test of skill.”

The captain would not reveal whether they would name an unchanged XI with the decision to be made after inspecting what is expected to be an underprepared pitch on Friday morning

The skipper said: “It [the wicket] was under-prepared and a lot can change in the next 24 hours, so we’ll make a judgement on the side tomorrow.”