Keaton Jennings excited to change books for bats
The left-hander recently finished his degree during lockdown, but now can't wait to get back to it against Leicestershire on Saturday
Lancashire batsman Keaton Jennings is ready to get back to the day job this weekend after a productive lockdown period.
Jennings, along with some of his Red Rose colleagues, have spent a good portion of the past few months planning for the future.
Earlier this month, the opener completed a Business Management degree and has also signed up to do a Masters degree. But he admits to having missed getting those competitive juices flowing out on the pitch.
Lancashire begin their Bob Willis Trophy North Group campaign with against Leicestershire at Worcester’s Blackfinch New Road on Saturday.
“For me, as an individual, it’s been really tough to sit at home and not get competitive,” said Jennings.
“To have fixtures booked back in the calendar - and to be ready to rock and roll - is exciting.”
Jennings is delighted by the structure of the Bob Willis Trophy - three groups of six, five games for each county and the two best finishing group winners qualifying for a five-day final culminating in early October.
He said: “It looks great. It’s First-Class cricket and competitive. Nobody can have any qualms with how it’s been set up. It’s professional cricket back on track.
“It’s five games we’ve got, and it’s about winning all five and trying to be the best in the country. We’ve prided ourselves over the last year on being a tough side to beat. We need to play some good cricket and get the cog moving.
“I don’t think it will set you up massively for next year because it’s such a small pool, but you want to win and be playing good cricket all the time.
“We need to start that on Saturday and nail it from ball one.”
Lancashire, perhaps more than most counties, were frustrated by the delayed opportunity to play some cricket.
In winning the County Championship’s Division Two title by a landslide margin last year, they had built up significant momentum and were confident of challenging for the top prize this year.
As Jennings says, they still are confident of four-day success, albeit in a one-off competition which has no bearing on the regular Championship.
But, at least he and a few team-mates have been able to stay busy since lockdown started in late March around their stay-at-home training schedule.
“It’s been interesting because it’s made a lot of guys realise what the priorities are in life,” he said.
“A lot of guys have got on with stuff away from cricket, which has been brilliant.
“I’ve had a bit of a break and stabilised myself outside of cricket, which has been good. I feel fresh and happy, and I feel like my play has improved over the last couple of months because of the time off.
“A couple of guys have done courses online, I finished my degree and have signed up to do a Masters.
“I know Josh Bohannon has finished off another aspect of his sparky course. I think a lot of guys have come back now in a sort of happier place, and in a weird way it helps them with their cricket.”
When the action begins on Saturday, Jennings says he and his Lancashire team-mates will be sparing a thought for absent friends, with no supporters or Members able to attend fixtures aside from the pilots taking place at the Kia Oval and Edgbaston.
“We need to keep engaging and making sure they feel a part of the club, which they are,” he added.
“It’s about making sure we as a Red Rose family all feel included the whole way through the season because it’s been tough through the summer. It’s been tough not playing and tough for Members not watching.
“Maybe by September we could have a couple of thousand in watching some T20 games. Then, all of a sudden, you spark off kids again because they want to get involved in the game.
“It’s been a fantastic couple of years for English cricket, and it would be a shame not to maintain that momentum moving forwards.”