England captain Alastair Cook admits that he and new opening partner Keaton Jennings will go into the decisive fourth Test against India in Mumbai on Thursday as virtual strangers.
Debutant Jennings – drafted into the team in place of the injured Haseeb Hameed – is the 11th different player to open the batting with Cook since the retirement of former skipper Andrew Strauss four years ago.
The Johannesburg-born Durham star, 24, only joined up with the squad on the eve of the match, fresh from scoring an unbeaten century for England Lions against the United Arab Emirates in Dubai last week.
“I’d never met him properly, so it’s probably been quite daunting for him in one sense,” said Cook, whose team trail 2-0 and must win to have any chance of drawing the five-match series.
“He seems a really good guy. He’s got a great head on his shoulders, and mentally I think he’s a very strong player, so I wish him all the best.”
Jennings, whose mother is from Sunderland and whose father is ex-Proteas coach Ray Jennings, is a former South Africa Under-19s captain who qualified for England after fulfilling a four-year eligibility period.
India, meanwhile, have replaced injured batsman Ajinkya Rahane with uncapped limited-overs star Manish Pandey.