“Duminy was struggling to get runs and was being brutally honest when he said that he deserved to be dropped. Not many cricketers say that as everyone wishes to play as long as they could”.
With the Port Elizabeth victory, India clinched the ODI series. South Africa, on the other hand, have had a tough time in the ODI series and never looked in control of things so far. Although South Africa were unlucky to miss out on few key players but India did exploit their weakness brutally. In the absence of few senior players and AB de Villiers (in the first three games), the pressure and responsibility to deliver only increased on the veterans.
All-rounder JP Duminy is one of the key players in this South African side with a substantial amount of experience. He was expected to play a key role in the series against India with the bat as well as with the ball, but his failure to deliver has cost the side dearly. His parched runs column has only raised questions regarding his spot in the side.
In fact, the presence of Heinrich Klaasen and emergence of Aiden Markram in this format has only tightened the race. It doesn’t take any special power to predict the kind of race that will be created once Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock make it back to the side. After announcing his retirement from Test cricket in 2017, Duminy’s focus has been on white ball cricket, but his poor form has not helped him achieve fruitful dividends.
A frustrating lean-patch
Since the start of 2017, Duminy averages just over 24 in 22 matches with a solitary fifty. The number speaks about his lack of form and impact. In the ongoing series, Duminy’s scores read 12, 25, 51, 10 and 1 (being the latest). He has only managed to garner 99 runs from five innings at 19.80, which is certainly not acceptable from a player of his stature. He is a veteran and is supposed to do a lot more than what he has eventually done.
At Durban, Duminy batted at five while at Centurion he batted at four. As the game progressed, his batting position kept on elevating and finally, in the third ODI at Cape Town, he took guard at three and continued at the said position in the next two games. It would be cruel to blame Duminy alone, as he was never given a settled batting position and had to tinker his approach in every game. But he did bat at three in as many games on a trot.
Number three is the most important batting position when it comes to limited overs cricket. A team’s best batsman often bats at this position, he is the backbone and needs to be versatile. If the side gets to a rocky start, he needs to do the repair work and in case of a magnificent start, he needs to keep up the tempo. For India, their best batsman Virat Kohli bats at this position.
South Africa showed faith in Duminy’s abilities and in the absence of Du Plessis, he batted at three. At Port Elizabeth, Duminy walked in to bat at 52 for 1 inside 10 overs. The asking rate was well under control and all South Africa needed was a quiet partnership and a platform for the middle-order to capitalise on, but it wasn’t to be. Hardik Pandya got the better of Duminy for a solitary run with a back of a length delivery that moved away after pitching. The southpaw edged it straight to Rohit Sharma at first slip. With the ball, Duminy was once again wicketless and has just two wickets in his basket from the entire series.
The 2019 World Cup is a year away and the preparations for the same has already begun for most of the teams. They are shortlisting and grooming the players they want to take the field on the grandest stages of ODI cricket. South Africa are yet to lift the title and will be looking to give their best shot this time. If Duminy is eyeing to be in the scheme of things, his willow needs to spill fire. He has the experience and has been a prolific middle-order batsman over the years.
Duminy understands his game very well and knows where he stands. He is one honest and humble cricketers in the fraternity. He gave a testament of his sporting spirit during the Test series against England, where he accepted that he deserved to be dropped after a terrible run with the bat. Duminy was struggling to get runs and was being brutally honest when he said that he deserved to be dropped. Not many cricketers say that as everyone wishes to play as long as they could.
There is a lot to come from Duminy in shorter formats, he has a lot of cricket to offer, but cannot afford to squander any more chances. He has been assigned to lead the South African side in the Twenty20 International (T20I) series against India. This is a golden opportunity for the southpaw to prove his credentials in the game and make an impact. He should lead the side by an example and get big runs under his belt.