SA in West Indies

SA's Duminy crisis goes on

2010-05-24 14:11
JP Duminy (Gallo)
Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

NEWS FLASH: JP Duminy has been dropped for the second ODI, his place taken by Alviro Petersen at North Sound, Antigua.

Cape Town – It is never fun seeing a really good player suffering. But I believe the time has come for JP Duminy to be put out of his misery and allowed to retreat to some intensive, out-of-competition technical assistance to cobble his game back together.

This is a sad state of affairs. We all know he can play, and then some.

He has had the backing of the Proteas brains trust – more than one batch of them, actually – over the last few months and been given every opportunity to get among the runs once more.

But it simply hasn’t happened. Admittedly in the limited-overs arena, in particular, a string of low scores can be deceptive: Duminy bats in the middle order and has been commendably unselfish in sacrificing his wicket when there’s a late-innings slog on.

That has been apparent a couple of times on the current, extended South African sojourn in the Caribbean, and especially in the Proteas’ dismal ICC World Twenty20 campaign, where he was one of several players who suffered from unacceptably torpid tempos at the top of the order and the haywire that can cause for the soldiers stationed lower down it.

But we also can’t use that indefinitely as a mitigating shield to protect Duminy.

The little left-hander is all too obviously labouring, entrapped by self-doubt (even if he is doing a mightily plucky job of trying to hide it) and at risk of sinking further and further into a personal pit that will only be that much harder to claw out of.

He has many strengths, being one of the more resourceful batsmen you will see, but his weaknesses – most notably against the bouncer of late – are eclipsing them by a fair margin as things stand.

Frankly, he has had a season from hell, if you gauge him from the start of the 2009/10 campaign to its “autumn”, if you like, in the West Indies. He is a sniper with a malfunctioning gun, and that’s no good.

Duminy has now managed only one century -- against weak Zimbabwe -- and one fifty in his last 27 innings in international cricket during the period mentioned.

More worryingly, in that time he has also been dismissed for single-figure scores on 16 occasions, including six ducks.

His average for his last six Test matches is 12.9, for his last nine ODIs 26.75 (obviously significantly inflated by that once-off Zimbabwe performance) and last nine T20 internationals 13.14.

A period of reassessment is needed, and that means, I feel, that he should be pulled out of the reckoning for the second one-day international at North Sound on Monday (15:30 our time) and then for the remaining three as well, assuming that South Africa have enough able bodies in the squad.

Whether it will happen is another matter, but recent Duminy statistics are all too damning.

Really, on the basis of them, Alviro Petersen should be given a bit of a run in the ODI team now – Loots Bosman is also lurking in the wings but the indelicate “Basher” just does not seem suited to the tactical adjustments required on so many Caribbean pitches.

The 26-year-old Duminy is useful to “have around” as a bowling option, of course: either second or third spinner depending on team makeup. But he hasn’t yet been employed once by Graeme Smith in that capacity in three limited-overs fixtures against West Indies on the trot.

And he fluffed a golden opportunity in the first ODI on Saturday to lift himself psychologically.

The West Indies’ seamers – even the less “express” ones like Ravi Rampaul and Dwayne Bravo, it must be said – targeted him with the short ball and Jerome Taylor duly pole-axed him with one as he attempted a pull.

Struck on the grille and left humiliated and stung on the deck, Duminy at least does not lack guts and two balls later he repeated the stroke with an immeasurably better outcome – a quite emphatic six.

But instead of that being some sort of defiant statement and a turning point, the batsman then made too much room for himself against Rampaul in the next over and was unceremoniously and disappointingly castled for 15.

Another day, another failure. The nightmare needs to end. Or more pertinently, be ended for him.

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