Were England right to select Keaton Jennings?

How can something not overly surprising, be surprising?

Yesterday England released the details of who they'd be taking to Sri Lanka in March for a short red-ball tour. Lancashire's Keaton Jennings name was on the list.

Jennings was last seen playing for England in the West Indies last February. Since that time England has found one and possibly two new openers in Dominic Sibley and Zak Crawley.

So why does a man who averages 33 in first-class cricket and 25 in test cricket deserve a place on the plane?

It's quite simple really, Keaton Jennings is one of the best batsmen against spin that England has. He may average just 17 in England and 15 in the West Indies. But he also averages 46 in Sri Lanka and 41 in India.

This is a tour to Sri Lanka and England also has a tour of India coming up. Is it really a surprise that they thought now was the time to reintroduce Jennings into the fold?

Earlier today former England captain Nasser Hussein wrote that England's selection of Jennings was short-sighted, whereas picking Bairstow would have been the better longer-term option.

I'm not going to get into the whole Bairstow argument as I've already covered that here. Needless to say, it does raise a good question...

Should you pick a player based on winning the next game? Or on who's got the brighter longer-term future?

I always find that question a lot trickier to answer for test cricket. For the T20 and the ODI team, I think the answer is simple, you pick the players who you think will be representing you at the next major tournament.

On the South Africa tour, we saw some experimentation with the team selection for ODI. Players like Tom Banton, Saqib Mahmood, and Matt Parkinson being given a chance. All young players, all players that England hope will be helping them win the 2023 World Cup.

For the T20 team, it's expected that England will put out a full-strength XI, with the World Cup just 8 months away.

With Test cricket, you're not working to a single big major event. Despite the introduction of the test championship, and even if you do consider that, based on the qualification structure, taking it test by test is vital to ensure you get the points required.

My question is, should England adapt their playing squads based on location, pitches and statistical performances? The obvious answer to that question is yes. If you've got turning pitches, you play more spinners, etc.

Nasser's argument is that it's short-sighted to pick Keaton because you're only going to play him in the sub-continent, my response to that is so what?

The bowlers are rotated based on where in the world we're playing, why not the batsmen? Can we be upset that England has chosen a batsman who averages over 46 in Sri Lanka, for a tour of Sri Lanka?

Not to mention that in the sub-continent having a superb fine-leg fielder is a huge advantage, and Jennings is a superb fine-leg fielder.

I have no problem with England selecting Jennings. If they select him for the visit of the West Indies in the summer, then that will be another issue altogether


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