Proteas must restore Duminy in PE

2019-03-08 11:15
JP Duminy (AP)

Cape Town – Veteran JP Duminy is ready to reinforce the enduringly shaky South African batting line-up.

That much was apparent as he produced a pleasing all-round performance as captain of the Cape Cobras in their crucial, last-gasp victory over the Lions in the Momentum One Day Cup at the Wanderers on Thursday.

Duminy, only recently recovered from a shoulder injury that side-lined him for a few months, got comfortably back into his stride in just his second game back, striking a fluent, intelligent 62 at roughly a run a ball on a slow, slightly uneven Bullring surface – his 192-cap ODI experience certainly shone through as the visitors batted first in the game eventually won by three runs off the last possible ball of the match.

The left-hander, 34, would have been delighted to have got among the runs, considering that his comeback game against the Titans at Newlands a few days ago saw him dismissed to one of those unfortunate leg-side glances to the wicketkeeper for a two-ball duck.

What’s more, Duminy very quickly busied himself in a bowling capacity in the Big Smoke too: he opened the Cobras’ attack with Rory Kleinveldt, had another spell at an advanced stage of the Lions’ innings, and his off-spin contribution was a lot better than his figures (7-0-41-1) suggested.

Less error-prone ground-fielding would have lessened the number of runs he conceded, although he was responsible for critically dismissing home team century-maker Dominic Hendricks in the 42nd over.

The game was a sharp reminder of the enduring value Duminy brings to the SA cause, especially with the fast-looming World Cup in England in mind, at least partly because he remains the best part-time bowling option among the Proteas’ batsmen: someone capable of chipping in four or five overs for varietal purposes or because a specialist bowler may be taking an unusual level of “tap”.

It makes sense now for the Proteas to latch him onto the squad for the closing two ODIs against Sri Lanka.

Already 2-0 up, they have one more game to play with the current group of players named by the selectors (in Durban on Sunday) but then tweaks can and probably will be made for the remainder of the series.

That should mean Duminy playing his first ODI since October 6 – it was against Zimbabwe in Paarl – when the St George’s Park fixture comes around on Wednesday, and then the combat ends at Newlands, his home ground, next Saturday.

He has had his ups and downs in all formats for South Africa over the years, but the diminutive player would still be most domestic experts’ choice for the World Cup squad: he boasts 5,016 ODI career runs at an average of just over 37.

In his last away 50-overs series for the Proteas, he played with pleasing authority and conviction against the very same Sri Lankans on their own challenging pitches, when South Africa won the series 3-2 in July and August last year.

Duminy would have a wonderful opportunity to regain sharpness at the highest level if he does play the last two ODIs, and then moves onward into the three-match Twenty20 international series before the Proteas’ home season ends.

In the meantime, the Cobras, now right back in contention for the One Day Cup semi-finals, should still enjoy his services this Saturday when they tackle the Dolphins in Maritzburg.

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

Read more on:    proteas  |  jp duminy  |  cricket


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