New Delhi: How often have we seen in cricket that a dad coaches his own son and helps him in selection for national team. Ray Jennings, former South African cricketer and Royal Challengers coach and his son Keaton is one such father-son duo.
Keaton, who is a surprise inclusion in England's squad after left-handed rookie opener Hasseb Hameed fractured his finger in third Test against India at Mohali, and ruled out from last two matches.
“I cant' remember him the last time I called him dad,” Keaton told DNA.
The Keatons share a different kind of relationship.
“When I was nine or 10 years old, we were training at the nets. It was one of those days when I had decided not to listen to my father. He threw me a ball, I got out. Second ball, I got out. He told me, 'you get out one more time, and you're going home'. He threw me the third ball, I got out. He put his bag down and walked off. From that day, he was coach to me," Keaton recalled his transformation.
While studying in Johannesburg, South Africa, Keaton also captained South Africa's U-19 team, but Ray had different plans for his son.
Ray, who played 159 first class games from 1973 to 992 didn't get a chance to play in the national team as at that time South African cricket was facing international isolation due to apartheid.
And he didn't want Keaton to end up like playing only the domestic cricket.
Ryan advised Keaton to migrate to England, where he can fully commit himself to Three Lions, and was subsequently picked up for Durham in 2012.
Its not the first time when a South African player has migrated from South Africa and pursue his career in English cricket. Kevin Pietersen, Andrew Strauss and Jonathan Trott have already represented their adopted country.
“I'm probably closer to him (Ray) than anybody else in the world, from the point of view of a father, a role model and a coach. I'm blessed to have a person in my life whom I trust with my life, who can guide me throughout my career,” Keaton added.
"We chatted a lot over the last week or so. He just told me to enjoy the process and the culture of India. Coming with him in 2009 and 2010 to the IPL, I was bit of a tourist and I really enjoyed it. So I'm glad to be back," he revealed.
On asking what tip did his father gave him before India-England clash Keaton said “One of his big tips was drink lots of water in India, and make sure it's from a closed bottle”.