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England recall Jennings for Pakistan finale as Stoneman dropped

© AFP/File / by Julian GUYER | Keaton Jennings is recalled after a disappointing series against South Africa last year


England have recalled Keaton Jennings in place of struggling opener Mark Stoneman for the second Test against Pakistan at Headingley starting on Friday.

That was the only change to a 12-man squad announced by the England and Wales Cricket Board on Monday after Pakistan went 1-0 up in this two-match series with an emphatic nine-wicket win completed inside four days at Lord's.

Stoneman, who has been short of runs for Surrey so far this season, managed just 13 in total in his two innings during the first Test.

Jennings averaged a lowly 24.50 following the last of his six Tests -- against his native South Africa at Old Trafford in August last year, after which he was replaced by Stoneman.

But the 25-year-old Jennings has made a strong start to the first-class County Championship, with two hundreds for new side Lancashire, the club he joined from Durham.

Jennings, whose father Ray kept wicket for South Africa in their years of apartheid-enforced isolation from official international cricket, but whose mother is English, currently averages nearly 44 in first-class matches for the Red Rose.

National selector Ed Smith, for whom the Lord's Test was his first game in charge, said: "Keaton Jennings showed a strong temperament in scoring a hundred on his Test match debut against India in December 2016.

"Keaton has found good form in county cricket this season, including three centuries in his last seven innings (two in the First Division of the County Championship, one in the Royal London One-Day Cup)."

England have struggled to find an opening partner for Alastair Cook, their all-time leading Test run-scorer, since former captain Andrew Strauss retired in 2012, with Jennings and Stoneman among 12 batsmen who have taken turns at the top of the order.

But Stoneman's alliance with Cook has been, statistically, England's all-time worst Test opening partnership, with the pair averaging under 19 for their first-wicket stands.

"Mark Stoneman misses out at Emerald Headingley," said Smith.

"Mark has experienced a disappointing start to the 2018 season and had a difficult Test match at Lord's," the former England batsman added.

England's overall top-order batting has long been a problem area.

They have managed the benchmark total of 400 just five times in 29 Test innings and on four of those occasions have still lost by an innings.

England now travel to Headingley, the Yorkshire home ground of captain Joe Root, needing a win to square the series after their humiliating defeat at Lord's meant they had lost six of their last eight Tests.

England squad to play Pakistan in the second Test at Headingley on June 1-5:

Alastair Cook (Essex), Keaton Jennings (Lancashire), Joe Root (Yorkshire, capt), Dawid Malan (Middlesex), Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire, wkt), Ben Stokes (Durham), Jos Buttler (Lancashire), Dominic Bess (Somerset), Chris Woakes (Warwickshire), Stuart Broad (Nottinghamshire), James Anderson (Lancashire), Mark Wood (Durham)

by Julian GUYER

© 2018 AFP