Johannesburg - In a summer in which nearly every member of the Proteas cricket team shone at one time or another in South Africa's victory over Australia in both the Test and one-day international series (ODI), one player -- 24-year-old JP Duminy -- shot to super-stardom.
Duminy was one of the heroes of South Africa's victories in the first and second Tests in Perth and Melbourne. In the first Test, he scored an unbeaten 50 to help South Africa chase down the seemingly impossible target ot 414 for victory, and in Melbourne, he made a superb 166 to save South Africa from a massive deficit -- and a new cricket star was born.
Duminy was not even supposed to play in the Tests. Although he has been playing ODIs since August 2004, he only got his Test chance when Ashwell Prince broke his thumb and was unable to play in the first Test.
"I've been travelling with the team for about a year now without getting a game, so I was prepared to go to Australia without getting a game. But I thought there might be a slight chance -- in a three-Test series you never know what might happen," Duminy said after the team's arrival at OR Tambo Airport on Saturday evening.
After bursting into prominence with both bat and ball, Duminy said it was hard to pick out highlights.
"The 50 runs in the first Test, when we had a record innings as a team -- that was great. But obviously the century at the MCG stands out. There's no better place to score my maiden century -- and against a team like Australia. It was unbelievable."
He said he was very nervous when he went out to bat in the second innings in Perth.
"I think my heart was pumping at about 200 when I went out to bat. Yes, I was very nervous, but I had the presence of mind not to show it. I know the Aussies like to target young players, so you can't show that you are nervous. I just put on a calm face and concentrated on every ball."
Not content with playing such a crucial role in South Africa's Test series victory, Duminy was also prominent in the five one-day internationals, contributing with bat and ball, and also in the field, where some of his fielding reminded the Australian commentators of the brilliance of Jonty Rhodes.
In Australia and in South Africa, he was hailed as a new star, with an exciting career to follow.
But Duminy is nothing if not pragmatic. He seemed mildly amused at all the fuss, describing it as "unbelievable."
He was also aware that with Prince -- the Proteas vice-captain -- back from injury, the selectors had a difficult choice to make.
"It's going to be difficult to make the Test team if everyone is fit and ready for selection," he said. "So what I need to do is to keep on making lots of runs and taking wickets."
South Africa's new star can be seen in action on Wednesday, when he is expected to turn out for the Cape Cobras in their Standard Bank Pro20 match against the Highveld Lions in Potchefstroom.