Cape Town - When Keaton Jennings scored an emphatic 112 on Test debut against India, the former King Edward VII School (KES) pupil became the 18th South African schooled cricketer to represent another nation in Test cricket.
Jennings was the 19th Englishman to score a century on Test debut and the first away hundred since 1948, when Billy Griffith scored 140 against the West Indies in Trinidad.
Of England’s five most recent debutantes to score hundreds, four were born in South Africa, with Jennings joining Jonathan Trott, Matt Prior (a former KES Preparatory pupil) and Andrew Strauss, on a list that has Alastair Cook squeezed in between.
Playing for his adopted country, Jennings’ ton was the first by a Test debutant since Stephen Cook’s 115 against England at Centurion in January this year.
Ironically, both Jennings and Cook were schooled at KES in Johannesburg, both opening batsmen, and both the sons of former greats - Ray Jennings and Jimmy Cook. To further deepen the connection, Jennings’ high school coach was none other than Ryan Cook - the brother of Stephen Cook.
“Keaton is a great example to many players - he is the best practiser that I have ever seen at that age. His high standard of performance and attention to detail were beyond his years in many ways. His intellect on the game was second to none, he is a really smart cricketer and it obviously helped growing up in a cricketing family from that regard,” said Ryan Cook.
Having experienced the sheer elation of watching his brother reach his century on debut, Cook once again had the opportunity to beam with pride as his former schoolboy prodigy reached the iconic landmark.
“A reverse sweep to get to a hundred on Test debut is a sign of a guy who is confident in those particular shots and in his own ability,” explained Cook - the Head Coach at the Gary Kirsten Cricket Academy in Cape Town.
Jennings captained the KES First XI in 2010, in a side that featured another future international in Quinton de Kock. In all, the Johannesburg school has produced 17 South African Test cricketers with the likes of Graeme Smith, Neil McKenzie, Ali Bacher and Buster Nupen ranking among them.
“In the last couple of years KES has had a lot of success and they have become synonymous with producing batsmen, especially top order batsmen. So it is really nice to have another name up on the international honours board,” added Cook.
KES could possibly boast even more Test cricketers were it not for isolation which saw the likes of Jennings’ father, Ray, as well Kevin McKenzie, Hugh Page and Lee Barnard miss out on official Test caps.
Keaton Jennings is the first Old Edwardian to play Test cricket for another nation and places his old school on the list below that features 15 other schools.
South African schooled players to represent other nations in Test cricket:
Nick Compton – England (Hilton & DHS)
Basil D’Oliveira – England (Zonneblom Practising School)
Grant Elliott – New Zealand (St Stithians)
Tony Greig – England (Queen’s College)
Ian Greig – England (Queen’s College)
Trevor Gripper – Zimbabwe (Kingswood College)
Keaton Jennings – England (King Edward VII School)
Neil Johnson – Zimbabwe (Howick High & Kingswood College)
Allan Lamb – England (Wynberg Boys’ High)
Kevin Pietersen – England (Maritzburg College)
Andy Pycroft – Zimbabwe (Bishops)
Neal Radford – England (Athlone Boys’ High School)
Chris Smith – England (Northwood School)
Robin Smith – England (Northwood School)
Jonathan Trott – England (Rondebosch Boys’ High)
Kruger van Wyk – New Zealand (Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool)
Neil Wagner – New Zealand (Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool)
Peter Walker – England (Highlands North High)