Australia in SA

Now the tougher part for JP?

2014-02-21 22:31
JP Duminy (Gallo Images)
Cape Town – A timely, particularly disciplined century beneath his belt, JP Duminy is bracing himself to see how he can fare as resurgent South Africa’s main spinner as the second Test against Australia develops intriguingly at St George’s Park.

SA vs Aus: As it happened - day 2

Even while he grafted his way diligently to his third three-figure effort in the Test arena, and second-highest personal score of 123, it would not have completely escaped his attention that fellow off-spinner Nathan Lyon, rather more of a specialist in that department, bagged five of the Proteas’ scalps in their weighty first innings.

It required all of 46 overs for Lyon to secure his haul of 5/130 – 12 overs more than the busiest Aussie seamer for workload, Peter Siddle – which was an indication of how challenging the Port Elizabeth pitch is for achieving regular breakthroughs once the shine has gone but also underlined the likely need for Duminy to contribute fulsomely with the ball.

Remember that the Cape Cobras star has more traditionally been South Africa’s second option as spinner in Tests, but the lack of clarity around who the main “tweaker” ought to be has thrust him into the frontline at his other trade in the Friendly City.

The one beauty of the home side having sufficient confidence to empower him in that way has been the ability to put together a suitably variety-laden and four-pronged seam attack – left-arm speedster Wayne Parnell re-announced himself in the Test fold in no uncertain fashion as he ripped out two top-order Aussies in his first over on Friday and exhibited commendable pace.

There is a long way to go in this match, but there will just have been a heartening sense in the South African dressing room on Friday evening that the boot was beginning to shift to the other foot after the bruising first-Test surrender at Centurion.

Exploiting the hardness of the new ball, which is always likely to present best opportunities for scalps in the first half of the match on the stubborn PE surface, Graeme Smith’s troops have the Aussies in a slightly precarious position thanks to the initial hostility of the home bowling.

The situation could have been a whole lot worse for the Baggy Greens, but a few opportunities went a-begging in a manic final hour or so, with a bristling Morne Morkel an especially luckless bowler and Duminy having been brought down to earth a little from his batting high by dropping night-watchman Nathan Lyon just before the close.

This ball is now 25 overs old so, if another spirited onslaught by the fast bowlers first up on Saturday doesn’t produce any special fruit – and marvellously brazen David Warner is the big gun to try to winkle out pretty smartly – then Duminy’s ability to keep up the pressure with his slower fare could be a critical factor in the push to extend South Africa’s advantage.

A bit of rough from the left-arm pacemen Parnell and Australian Mitchell Johnson could start to assist an off-spinner, so that will interest Duminy when he eventually gets his maiden bowling crack as a Test player at St George’s Park.

“If South Africa are to go on and win this game it will require a (spin) contribution from JP, and perhaps the other part-timers like Dean Elgar and Faf du Plessis,” said former SA skipper Shaun Pollock in commentary towards the end of play on Friday.

It was hard to disagree ... even after the fine early inroads of the Proteas’ pumped-up faster men.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    australia  |  proteas  |  ozinsa  |  cricket
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