Cricket World Cup 2011

Duminy's sunny summer

2011-03-15 22:22
JP Duminy (Gallo Images)

Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – Is there anybody out there still misguidedly dissing JP Duminy on the grounds of his problematic 2009/10 season?

That, of course, was his less than stellar follow-up to a hugely influential previous campaign, when he had taken Australia by storm, and there was no shortage of know-it-alls writing him off as a one-season wonder.

Maybe now they would care to look at his one-day international statistics for 2010/11, which continued along its highly productive course for the diminutive Cape Cobras man in Kolkata on Tuesday.

 Thanks in no small measure to player-of-the-match Duminy’s innings of 99 at virtually a run a ball against Ireland, South Africa became the first side in tight Group B to assure themselves of a quarter-final berth as they won by the satisfying margin of 131 runs against the ever-determined little ‘uns from the Emerald Isle.

And this on a day that had started in stuttering fashion for the Proteas: the left-hander took to the crease with his heavily-fancied country 84 for three and a potentially even more damaging 117 for five some 10 overs later.

“The circumstances were a bit tense,” Duminy conceded afterwards in recalling his appearance at the Eden Gardens crease.

But that, it turned out, was pretty much where the butterflies of South Africa and their supporters began to settle, as Duminy and the busy, impressive World Cup debutant Colin Ingram, in particular, engineered a rebuild that would culminate in victory with ample breathing space.

The Strandfontein product, who turns 27 next month, played the sort of knock we are perhaps guilty of taking for granted from him this season.

It is not easy operating at No 5 or 6 in ODIs; you often have less time than the upper-order batsmen to “have a look” and are under pressure to score quickly and rotate strike deftly at the click of the fingers.

But this was vintage 2010/11 Duminy, unflustered by the wobbly situation upon arrival, nudging and caressing diligently, upsetting field placements, and finally unleashing a mini-crescendo of boundaries (he often doesn’t need too many of them to register a robust score) as the boot turned quite inspiringly to the South African foot.

He selflessly sacrificed himself with two balls of the Proteas innings left, seeking out a six for the broader cause when some batsmen might have opted for a cheeky glide or dab for a single, thus depriving himself of a third century in this format and first for him in a World Cup.

And it took a great outfield catch from Kevin O’Brien - the big-hitting Irishman who has many Flintoffesque characteristics and mannerisms about him, if you ask me - to head off the milestone.

Still, here is why I have described Duminy’s summer as vintage: he has been a model of astonishing consistency in ODIs over the course of 18 innings since mid-October, when neighbours Zimbabwe were South Africa’s first visitors of the busy campaign.

In the period in question, right up to Tuesday in Kolkata, Duminy has rattled up 783 runs, including six not outs, at an average, by my impromptu calculation, of 65. And that is quite some number for a player in his taxing spot on the batting ladder.

Only once in this period -- which also takes in the rigours of playing Pakistan in the reasonably unfamiliar United Arab Emirates, India at home, and then well into the World Cup – has Duminy been dismissed in single figures, and that was his duck in the Proteas’ lone tourney defeat thus far to England, when Jimmy Anderson ripped a beast of a delivery through his defences.

So at the very least this alleged one-season wonder is going to be a two-season wonder, don’t you think?

This was another fine day at the office generally for South Africa, once they had clawed their way out of the initial trouble.

Their intensity and ambition in the field meant Ireland were never really in the hunt for 273 and, having safely banked their quarter-final, the Proteas arguably even have the luxury of allowing their only regularly misfiring link – captain Graeme Smith’s seriously out-of-sync batting – another stab at getting his game together at the top of the order against Bangladesh on Saturday before any drastic reshuffling measures are contemplated for the KO phase.

A few things about Smith, it must be said, aren’t causing grief at all, not least his captaincy from both a tactical and motivational perspective.

He is at the helm of a briskly-sailing and seemingly notably harmonious ship.

Disturbing that rhythm should not be a step taken lightly ...


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