A day after returning from a short holiday in Dubai, as the rejuvenated England squad hit the nets at the Wankhede Stadium, it received a boost ahead of the penultimate rubber of the five-match series. Ace pacer Stuart Broad resumed bowling after missing the third Test in Mohali due to a strained tendon in his left foot.
Broad bowled during England’s training at Monday morning and didn’t appear uncomfortable. Even though he didn’t bowl at full throttle, he appeared to be getting into his groove. If Broad is certified fit for the match, England is likely to make an exception to its policy of rotating pace bowlers and go into the must-win match for keeping the series alive with four pace bowlers.
It is possible that, taking into account the bite that has traditionally been on offer to seamers at the Wankhede Stadium, England may add Broad to its pace pack of James Anderson, Chris Woakes and all-rounder Ben Stokes. That would mean one of the three spinners who featured in Mohali would be rested. If that were to happen, veteran Gareth Betty is the likeliest candidate to be benched again.
Jennings Jr. in awe of famous father
Thanks to an injury to young opener Haseeb Hameed in Mohali, Keaton Jennings – the left-handed opener who is better known as the son of former South Africa coach Ray Jennings – is set to mark his Test debut come Thursday. While making a desperate bid to the English media contingent about him being an Englishman, having left his South African roots behind, Jennings Jr. couldn’t reveal the impact his father has had on him.
Jennings Sr. is considered to be one of the strictest coaches around, having been in-charge of the Proteas for a while in the last decade before helping the South African Under-19 team to lift the junior World Cup two years ago. During his long stint with the Royal Challengers Bangalore, Ray also played a vital role in Virat Kohli’s transformation into a top batsman.
Keaton revealed how he never refers to Jennings Sr. as father on the field. “I can’t remember the last time I called him dad,” said Keaton, who moved from South Africa to Durham in England five years ago to establish himself as a cricketer. “When I was nine or 10 we went to the nets. We were training. It was one of the days when I decided not to listen. He threw me the first ball, I got out. Second ball, I got out. He said you get out one more time we’re going home. He threw me another ball, I got out. He put his bag down and walked off. From that day forward he was “Coachy”. I’m probably closer to him than I am to anybody else in the world, from a father point of view, from a role model, from a coach. I’m blessed to have a person in my life that I trust, that I trust with my life, and that will help me guide my career.”
Keaton also revealed how his father has imbibed the “pressure is a privilege” motto in him. If the 22-year-old is able to weather the onslaught of an in-form Indian bowling unit on Thursday, Ray – holidaying in Mauritis – will surely feel like a privileged and proud father and coach.