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  • 04 Jul
    导出博客文章Keaton Jennings prolific form last summer has earned him his first experience
    with England Lions but, even as he relishes his opportunities at the
    Loughborough national performance centre, he is wrestling with the dilemma of
    whether to abandon his career with crisis-ridden Durham. On one hand lies his
    natural sense of loyalty, on the other the notion that an England career is not
    too far away. He has some agonising ahead.Jennings has held several exploratory
    conversations with Durham about the possibility of captaining them in at least
    one limited-overs format, with Paul Collingwood, at 41, retaining the role in
    the Championship. There have been a couple of discussions about captaincy but
    nothing has been decided - not from Collys point of view either - but there have
    been discussions, he said.Jennings freely admits that his future remains
    uncertain following the enforced relegation of Durham to Division Two of the
    Championship, and the issue of points deductions, by the ECB as punishment for
    the bailout they required from central funds to avoid bankruptcy. Strict
    financial controls over forthcoming years question whether they can remain able
    to compete.It was a wholly different world when Jennings signed a four-year
    contract and he is adamant that the changed circumstances, in which Durham have
    also been reconstituted as a community interest company under the chairmanship
    of Sir Ian Botham, leave him entitled to leave should he so wish. The exact
    nature of that escape route has not yet been revealed.I was slightly worried
    when I signed the contract about players staying but at the time I had to make a
    call and put my head on the block, Jennings admitted. It has been a long summer
    and I have a lot of thinking to do over the next two or three weeks and a lot of
    conversations to have.Warwickshire and Yorkshire will be among a clutch of
    counties monitoring the situation, but they may have to wait a while longer.
    Jennings, preparing for a Lions trip to Dubai, has other matters on his mind.At
    the moment I am really excited to be here with the Lions and I really want to
    focus on that first. It is the first time I have been involved with the ECB in
    any format and mostly I am trying to enjoy the next couple of weeks. At the end
    of the day everything is open. I am not saying I would like to leave because I
    love Durham and I love the guys at Durham.It is a challenging time for him. Much
    as England seek to plan their international pathway, Jennings, who came close to
    selection for the Test tour to India - a surfeit of left-handers did not help
    his cause - has suddenly sprung to prominence, much as have Ben Duckett and
    Haseeb Hameed, whose international careers are already underway. Duckett has
    emerged, too, from Division Two of the Championship. Does Jennings think he
    could do that? Youd better ask the selectors, he said.Strikingly, Jennings
    negotiated his contract without the help of an agent, which makes him a rare
    individual in modern-day professional sport, especially as a player with
    realistic international ambitions.At first meeting he is a genial sort, not
    immediately recognisable as the son of Ray Jennings, a former South Africa
    wicketkeeper who gained a reputation as a hard disciplinarian during his
    coaching years. Clearly, though, he has a similar appetite for self-sufficiency
    and between them father and son negotiated the contract that might yet hold the
    key to his future. He has no regrets.I learned quite a lot about myself during
    the process. It was interesting to call up people and have some hard
    conversations: in terms of who is the coach going to be, who are the senior
    players going to be, what role would I play?If I had given that job to an agent
    I wouldnt have learned as much about myself and made the contacts and friends
    that I have made. It has been an interesting year in a lot of respects but at
    the time it was the right call definitely.I have had a few friends and members
    of the family say we think you are a little bit crazy but I enjoy being hands
    on. I think my Dad enjoyed it as well. It gave him a little hobby.News of
    Durhams plight broke in early October when he was back in South Africa,
    labouring through an accounting exam for which he knew, due to the daily grind
    of the county circuit, he was not remotely prepared.It was the day I walked into
    an auditing exam. Id walked into it having not finished my coursework - during
    the cricket season you tend to run out of time - and I think I failed the exam
    which didnt help but thats life. Then I walked out of the exam to the news. It
    is sad what has happened but at the end of the day the guys have got to face the
    facts I suppose and come back from there.As players we didnt have too much of an
    idea about the extent of what was going on. I suppose there were the previous
    years financial statements we could have looked at but I dont think we realised
    the extent it was at. At the end of the day I am not experienced enough to sit
    down and analyse those statements but those are the sanctions that have been
    given and unfortunately that is what we have to live with.During the season
    there was no talk. There were fears that it was not as financially stable as
    being said but at the end of the day we didnt think we werent going to get paid
    or the club was going to deteriorate as quickly as the media had perceived. From
    a players point of view we thought that everything was alright. When you are in
    the changing room it was a bit of a bubble and you end up caught within your 15
    guys and that is your bubble.Jennings is quick to give much of the credit for
    keeping spirits high while rumours swirled to Collingwood, who along with the
    head of the academy and former coach, Geoff Cook, has become symbolic of the
    good things in Durham cricket while mismanagement has happened all around them
    and the general economic difficulties pervading the northeast have done their
    worstCollingwood is a huge influence in terms of social aspects, of vision and
    of drive, Jennings said. At 40 years old now - he will be 41 next year - he is
    one of the hardest trainers. After a days play he goes in the gym and he sets a
    standard of what is expected of you as a professional but then he will go away
    from cricket and really enjoy his time as well and educate the guys away from
    cricket about how they got that balance.There is no sense that Jennings is now
    holding Durham to ransom over the captaincy that Collingwood has fulfilled with
    such vigour. He recoils at the notion. No, not at all. I have never been a guy
    to put a club under the pump, to say if you dont give me the captaincy I am
    going to leave. That is not who I am. For me whatever is right for the team must
    happen. If it is right for a team that I will captain I will captain. If it is
    not right then I am more than happy to play a supporting role.In his early years
    at Durham, watching Jennings bat could be a taxing duty. He was a stilted
    left-hander, wary of stroke, concentrating largely on survival, especially on
    the demanding pitches at Chester-le-Street. Last summer, though, something
    clicked. It was more than just the natural progression of a career. His 1548
    Championship runs, with seven centuries, spoke of higher ambitions. His
    improvement had its roots in some prolonged self-analysis when he questioned
    whether his cricketing obsession was becoming self-destructive.It was a special
    year for a lot of respects, he said. I suppose it was down to a slight change of
    mindset. I had been chatting to my uncle, who was a sports psychologist, over
    the winter and he went through a process of trying to help be more positive and
    on the back of that finding happiness and thinking Am I really happy playing
    cricket or am I happy doing something else? I am generally too
    attention-to-detail for my own good sometimes.I sat down with my dad and got a
    bit of happiness outside cricket and I think off the back of that it kind of
    helped me out. I put a bit more energy into my studies - I am studying financial
    accounting - although I have deferred it another year and I will finish in
    2018.Then within that I did a bit of coaching, spent a little time with my niece
    and nephew so outside of cricket I had a bit of balance in my life instead of
    just being all-out cricket: gym, train, go to the ground. I played a bit of
    golf, enjoyed a beer and I suppose had good downtime with family.Which neatly
    introduces the topic of his father. When he was coach of South Africa, Jennings
    was once called by the Telegraph this rabid disciplinarian with his bristling
    moustache. His perfectionism was taken as read, his demands high, his honesty
    searing. His son, eager to build a cricketing career, looks on it all with
    equanimity.My girlfriend says we have been watered down through the generations,
    he laughed. My dad is very - harsh is the wrong word - he is very stern, he is
    very firm. He is a huge professional and this is how he puts food on the table
    for the family.He tells a story of his fathers playing career when, as a
    wicketkeeper, he grew his own grass at the Wanderers. He used to bring in his
    own grass seed and grow it to practice on because he knew if he dived on the
    grass that was there he would hurt his arms. So he grew his own grass and told
    the guys not to cut it. He knew exactly how he wanted it.Jennings senior, 62
    now, his moustache bristling in shades of grey, coaches cricket at Dainfern
    College, a private co-educational school in Northern Johannesburg. The family
    lives on a golf estate about 2km from the school. Most days, Ray drives his golf
    buggy up the road and runs the cricket for 5 to 18-year-olds in the afternoon.
    Keaton tries to help out when he visits.He has taught me the discipline and hard
    work aspect of anything in my life. I have never shied away from hard work or
    doing the hard graft at the right time. He is a character like that - he built
    his own garden. There was a big unlevelled piece of land where the house is
    built and he carried in chest-high stones and built this little garden the way
    he wanted it. He is a hard-working man and very disciplined and I suppose that
    is what I have taken from him.
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