|LV= County Championship Division One, Emirates Old Trafford (Day 1)|
|Lancashire 414-5: Jennings 190*, Croft 86; Steel 2-63|
|Surrey: Still to beat|
|Lancashire 5 points, Surrey 1 point|
Keaton Jennings hit a brilliant 190, not keen to push his case for a recall from England as Lancashire dominated day one against champions Surrey.
Jennings, who is now the leading run scorer in this year’s county championship, fought from start to finish to score his fifth hundred of the summer as the Red Rose finished 414-5.
The left-handed opener shared a third wicket count of 195 with Steven Croft, who fell out for 86, sparking a three-wicket tumble for 13 runs as Lancashire slipped to 304-5.
But he found excellent support late in the day from George Balderson, who finished undefeated at 53 in an unbroken sixth wicket total of 110.
Surrey, who clinched the title with their 10-wicket triumph over Yorkshire last Thursday, had a rough day on the field as they lost runs at more than four runs per over, with Cameron Steel 2-63 leading the pack with the ball scored.
After winning the toss and deciding to bat, Lancashire started in confidence, although Jennings was outclassed by opening partner Luke Wells, who dropped to 36.
His 50 came after lunch from 109 balls, but it only took him 60 balls to go from there to three numbers.
If the weight of runs in championship cricket is the currency for the English selection, then Jennings ticks all the boxes.
Openers Alex Lees and Zak Crawley have not always impressed this summer despite England winning six out of seven Tests, but they will be on the plane to Pakistan for December’s three Tests.
However, if there’s room for a third opener in the roster, Jennings must be close to being the next cab of the rank.
When he reached 160, he overtook Kent’s Ben Compton as the leading run scorer in Division One of the county championship that summer.
The 30-year-old currently has 1,224 runs at a 76.50 average and this was the eighth time he has surpassed 150 in his top-flight career, with a best of 318 against Somerset in July at Southport.
Jennings played the last of his 17 Tests for England in the West Indies in early 2019 and while his 25.19 average is below average, his two hundreds both came from the subcontinent.
He hit 112 on his debut against India in Mumbai in December 2018 and hit a Test best of 146 in Galle against Sri Lanka in November 2018, which must be on the mind of selectors for Pakistan, where his ability to bat for long periods will be a huge advantage.
He wasn’t far from hitting his double century on day one either, with a drive that forced bowler Tom Curran to dodge, the highlight of his and Lancashire’s day.
Lancashire opener Keaton Jennings:
“It’s been a fun season – I’ve had a few average seasons so enjoy those as they come around.
“Luke Wells has been brilliant for me – we’ve talked a lot about game plans and the way we go about things and I think we got each other to the top of the order quite well.
“I’ve tried new things that I haven’t done in previous seasons – I think in the past I might have been a little too scared to try things, but they worked and it relaxes you.
“I’m a perfectionist, so I’m the first person to look inward and try to find a solution when things aren’t going well. But it’s nice to go home and have a glass of wine or beer with loved ones and enjoy it instead of suffering the heartache of thinking about mistakes you’ve made and bad things you’ve done Has.”
Surrey all-rounder Cameron Steel:
“That was a proper inning from Keaton. We all know he’s a real player, especially here at Old Trafford and especially against Spin. He played beautifully – it’s obviously a good pitch, but hats off to him.
“There is definitely something for the weirdos. It’s pretty flat and slow for the seafarers, but we could have bowled a little better at times.
“I think there was about 40 overs with spin today, which is something I haven’t experienced in my career and it was nice to be a part of it, especially on a turning field like this.”
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