Keaton Jennings humbled by England call-up despite being at the peak of his powers

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Jennings was the top run-scorer in Division One of the LV= Insurance County Championship, pounding out 1233 top-flight runs at an average of 72.52 with five centuries along the way. Among those was a monster 318 against Somerset, to go with a double ton and a 199, keeping Jennings' name firmly in the spotlight while England's chosen pair of Alex Lees and Zak Crawley struggled for scores in the international arena. He knows exactly what it is like to be in that position, averaging just 25.19 from 17 Test appearances and being axed from the set-up on two separate occasions, but feels in the form of his life as speculation over a possible recall rises. England are due to return to Pakistan for three Tests before Christmas and, with centuries against India in Mumbai and Sri Lanka in Galle on his CV, he has pedigree on the sub-continent. And while he expects Lees and Crawley to continue, the 30-year-old admits he has never been better placed to try again. "This year was one of those years you'll look back on in retirement and realise how special it was. I did things this year I've never done before," he told the PA news agency. "I turned 30 this summer and I think age and maturity is a big factor. Between 28 and 35 is when you hit your peak as a batter - a lot of guys have scored a lot of runs in that period, it's the best time of a batter's life. "You get to the point where with yourself as a human, you're happy with your game and you're more comfortable with the ebbs and flows of the game. "I'd be naive to say (England) hasn't crossed my mind, it would be fantastic if I did tour, but I can't do any more or any less to persuade them now. England selection is amazing, but it's something that's out of my control. "What Ben Stokes and the rest of the squad have done incredibly well is back guys publicly, and that's absolutely fantastic. Once you've had a taste of that tough environment, positive or negative, you realise how hard it is.

"I would assume the same two guys would open the batting in the next Test match.

"Of course, for myself, it would be fantastic to play more, I'd love to.

"I probably struggled with that before, you want to do more, to ask 'how can I prove myself again?', but that's not when you're at your happiest or playing your best cricket.

"If that recognition comes for me, it's great, but if it doesn't I'm still very happy in my life."

Jennings does not feel wounded by his previous axings by England, first in the summer of 2017 and a second time in February 2019, pointing to a resilience forged at the business end of the batting order. "I definitely felt backed, Joe Root was amazing as a friend and a bloke. But runs are your currency and I didn't do well enough to maintain my position with England," he said. "I'm not happy about that but I am content. I love a challenge and I will never be a guy to shy away from a challenge. "I'm quite proud that I've kept fronting up, even when times are hard. It's part and parcel of it, you cry, you get a cuddle from your loved ones and you move on. "Opening the batting is hard, it's a constant battering. It's Chinese water torture to a degree, but on the other foot it's one of the most rewarding things if you do it well. "I keep saying to (Lancashire coach) Graham Onions 'I'm on the wave right now' and you keep trying to ride that as long as you can. "The best guys in the world fail 75 per cent of the time, it's a failure ridden profession. So it's about managing your emotions and cashing in when things do go your way. I've done that this year."

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