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Keaton Jennings on Royal London Cup Final

Keaton Jennings on Royal London Cup Final
Keaton Jennings on Royal London Cup Final

Keaton Jennings says the prospect of leading Lancashire out in Saturday’s Royal London Cup final at Trent Bridge will be “a huge highlight of my career”.

Jennings, having led the Red Rose throughout the majority of the summer’s 50-over campaign, will retain the captaincy for their showpiece clash with Kent despite Dane Vilas being back in the side after recovering from a broken finger.

Lancashire have made it through to Nottingham on the back of finishing second in Group B, one place above the Spitfires, and then nail-biting knockout victories over Nottinghamshire and Sussex.

“I’m very proud,” said the England fringe opener, who won this competition with Durham in 2014.

“The guys have been fantastic, and everybody has stuck their hands up.

“The last four games we’ve won, we’ve probably done so from positions where we’ve had no right to win them.

“It’s been a real team orientated effort, which has been brilliant.

“Everybody’s put in and have loved playing, which has been brilliant.

“I’ve absolutely loved it. It’s been an amazing group to be a part of and captain, and we’re now in that pressure pot of playing in a final. We’re all looking forward to it.

“To walk out representing Lancashire as a captain will be absolutely amazing.

“Even as a young lad growing up in South Africa, you know all about Lancashire’s history, about Emirates Old Trafford and all the Test Matches they’ve had.

“To go out and represent a county which has such a rich history and tradition is a massive honour for me, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

While Kent have already said they will not select the returning players who have been so far unavailable because of the Hundred, Lancashire have not nailed their colours to the mast and could, therefore, select spin duo Matt Parkinson and Tom Hartley.

The Red Rose lost their final group game to Kent at Canterbury before beating Notts at Blackpool in the quarter-final Eliminator and then Sussex in the semi-final at Hove.

In both knockout games, they were in grave danger of losing, especially at Hove when they were 67-5 before posting 319-8.

Brilliant centuries from experienced heads Steven Croft at Blackpool and Dane Vilas at Hove saw them to victory.

“Guys have found a way to win,” continued Jennings, whose side will be cheered on by members of the Thunder women’s regional squad, whose final game of the season has been pushed back a day to Sunday as a result.

“I don’t think we’ve had too many perfect performances, which in many ways is not a bad thing. We’ve fought hard and scrapped.

“Against Sussex, there was no panic in the changing room at any point. We always believed someone would get a score to get us up to something to defend.

“The belief that we can win from anywhere is vital.

“A big thing for me is how we’ve fielded. It might seem a small thing, but fielding shows an attitude. Guys have dived and thrown themselves around, which has been brilliant.”

On the competition in general, the 30-year-old said: “It’s been brilliant. The cricket has been so competitive, and we see it as a priority in our calendar.

“Saturday will be a really good day against a good Kent side.

“They’ve beaten us in this competition already this year, but we beat them in the Championship. We will both go down there thinking we can win. Let’s punch away and see what happens.”

From Barnoldswick to Bolton, from Chorley to Chorlton, a Lancashire victory will be cheered to the rafters.

Most others in the country, however, are likely to be Kent supporters for the day as they will on a fairytale Darren Stevens swan song, the 46-year-old set to leave Canterbury at the end of the season.

“Stevo has been brilliant,” added Jennings. “Anyone who has that sort of longevity in the sport has to change, adapt and overcome adversity.

“He probably made his debut before a number of our changing room were born.

“It’s been fantastic to see what he’s achieved as a player.

“He’s a fantastic cricketer and great man, but hopefully we come out on top and spoil his party.”