THE local sporting community is mourning the loss of former Somerset cricketer Keith Jennings who has passed away at the age of 70.

Keith was Somerset through and through. He was born at Wellington on October 5, 1953, and grew up playing his cricket for his local club team at Milverton where he worked in the family business as a carpenter and Joiner.

A right handed lower order bater and right arm medium pace bowler Keith based his action on that of Tom Cartwright and went onto become an integral part of the Glory Years team at Somerset that won five one day trophies in as many seasons.

Keith made his Second XI debut for the county in 1971,  and spent time on Lord’s ground staff where he was a contemporary of Ian Botham. His first-class and List A debuts came in 1975 and the following year was a regular member of Somerset's one-day team. 

Originally he showed promise as an all rounder and in the early stage of his career produced some impressive performances, but his batting declined and he became a tidy dependable and economical bowler particularly suited to one day cricket.

In 1978, he took 40 first-class wickets, the most he achieved in a season, which included a championship career best  of five for 18 in 23.5 overs against Sussex at Hove. which saw him awarded his county cap.

Despite having many international players available, Keith maintained his place in the Somerset line up and when it appeared that the county might be heading for their first ever trophy played in the two crucial one day matches at the end of the season matches, which in the end they lost to Sussex in the Gillette Cup Final and  Essex in the final John Player League match.

In 1979  Keith was again a regular in both the Somerset championship and one day sides.

At the end of the season Somerset reached the final of the Gillette Cup where they beat Northants Keith, conceding just 29 runs from his allotted 12 overs and the following day the county made it a double success by beating Notts to lift the John Player League.

Keith was one of the unsung heroes of the side that Brian Close built and Brian Rose took over the captaincy which included many local talented young cricketers.

He played his final match for first team match for Somerset in 1981 and left county cricket to return to the family business in Milverton.

During his Somerset career Keith played in 68 first class matches in which he took 96 wickets at 35.44 and 88 List A matches taking 104 wickets at 24.70.