August 5, 2021, 0:30

Keaton Jennings on being left out for England’s Antigua defeat and working to earn a recall

Keaton Jennings on being left out for England’s Antigua defeat and working to earn a recall

In his latest Sky Sports column, Keaton Jennings discusses being left out of the England side for the second Test, why the players not in the XI still have an important role to play, and how he is going about earning a recall…

Being told that you have been dropped is very tough. The whole mentality around selection for players is quite tough, and to be told you haven’t been selected is a difficult pill to swallow.

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But we’re a team of 15 guys on this tour, trying to win as many games as we can, and we as 12th men still have a huge role to play in making sure the guys are happy in and around playing, and then try to prepare them.

It really is hard being left out, but you are still very much part of the team and squad and still have a huge role to play.

I suppose when you get left out, it does give you a chance to take a step back, look at your own game and the areas you want to improve, and then go again.

Realistically, over the next four weeks and then in pre-season with Lancashire, I’ve got a bit of work to do on my game and I’ll definitely be doing that. Then come the start of the season, it is just about scoring as many runs as you can.

There are eight or nine championship games before the first Test of the summer and it is about weight of runs at the start of the season, and the selection will come off the back of that.

Regardless of who you are, you’re not going to get selected if you’re not scoring runs. Whether you’ve scored three hundreds on this tour or you’ve been dropped and are in my position, you need to get into the season and do as well as you can to put your name in the hat come the Ashes, which is still four or five months away.

Everybody will be eyeing that top-order spot, which is only natural. It’s awesome for Denners [Joe Denly] to get a go – he’s a fantastic guy and a fantastic player. It’s an amazing feeling to have played in a Test match and once the season starts, everyone will be in the same boat, wanting to score as many runs as they can.

It’s an exciting time for top-order batsmen because there are opportunities available. It is a tough job, but there are definitely opportunities there.

Everyone is hurting after losing the second Test and, as a result, the series. To lose a game for England is tough and it brings with it an anger or a sadness that is really tough to explain when you get slated by the world’s media; they’re picking everyone’s game apart, picking the team apart, and it’s a tough process to try and stay together.

A massive plus is the way the 15 guys out here have stuck together beautifully, the morale among the players has been absolutely brilliant, and I suppose it’s a credit to the calibre of people we have, which is awesome.

The guys have kept up a good spirit and there has been a camaraderie, a good sense of guys being mates with each other. A good example was after we’d been in the field for 80 or 90 overs – Woody [Mark Wood] brought the drinks and as he ran past me, he barked in my ear!

I got one of the biggest frights of my life – it felt like the bark came from inside my head! But that sums up Woody, he’s a great lad, he keeps the guys going and gave them a great chuckle there. At times when you are in a difficult situation, a bit of a joke and a morale boost is really important.

Unfortunately, we’ve been short of the standards we’ve set ourselves over the last 18 months or so.

After a defeat, you need to find the balance between spending time together discussing things honestly as a team and letting people have a bit of space and time away from cricket.

When you’ve got so many different characters who enjoy recharging their batteries in different ways, and who handle the defeat and the process in different ways, you don’t want to force team time because if you do, it can have the opposite effect to what was intended.

You need to have those honest discussions but if you have too many, then you can end up in a bit of a spiral.

It’s important to remember that we’ve beaten India, the No 1 side in the world, at home and beaten Sri Lanka away – and that is just in the last eight or nine months.

It has been a tough couple of weeks, but we may win the last Test and then everyone will be thinking it’s back to normal again.

It’s been tough but I’m really happy with the way the guys have stuck together. To say the guys have taken their foot off the gas at any point in the series would be completely incorrect – they have been incredibly disciplined and dedicated in the way they’ve trained and how they’ve tried to win games.

Yes, the performances have been well below board but the work that the guys have put in has been awesome. At times as a player, sometimes it doesn’t go your way, sometimes it does, but that is what you need to do to win.

For this last Test, we’ve got a couple of good training days leading into it and we need to make sure we hit the ground running and that come Saturday morning, we are ready to be really competitive and put up five days of good fight.

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