South Africa in Australia 2012-13 November 10, 2012

Who will take JP Duminy's place?


JP Duminy knows the impact a moment can have on a career. The instant Ashwell Prince's hand was fractured in Perth in 2008, Duminy was given a chance to perform on the international stage. In a nasty twist, the second he snapped his Achilles' tendon in Brisbane someone else will get that opportunity this time.

Faf du Plessis is going to be the biggest benefactor of that. This is his second tour as a back-up batsman in the Test squad - a spot he earned through his improvements in the first-class game - and will likely slot in Duminy's place. Until Matthew Maynard took charge of the Titans, du Plessis was batting in the lower middle-order, did not spent much time at the crease as a result and his string of low scores came through batting with the tail.

Maynard suggested that du Plessis move up to No. 4 and the change gave him everything he did not have before: more time and more runs. In four first-class matches he scored 599 runs which included three hundreds. Du Plessis captained South Africa A against Sri Lanka A in June and scored a hundred in the first unofficial Test. He was due to lead them again in Ireland but was called up to the Test squad in England after Albie Morkel suffered an ankle injury.

Batting at No. 7 will put du Plessis back in the position where he floundered at the Titans but in a Test side, he won't complain. Du Plessis will also offer the option of his more than part-time legspin and has been rated one of the best fielders in the world. As a replacement, he is more than ideal, which can only serve to worry Duminy more.

The rest of the chasing pack inspires a little less confidence. One of Dean Elgar, Justin Ontong, Prince or Colin Ingram will be called up as a shadow member of the squad. ESPNcricinfo understand that Elgar is in prime position to get the nod, although his first-class form of late has not been as notable as the other candidates.

His overall average is an impressive 44.75 but he has only played one match this season in which he scored 44 and 2. He was part of South Africa's ODI squad in England and top scored with 42 and played with du Plessis against Sri Lanka A where he outscored him with 171. He was also part of South Africa's one-day squad who faced Sri Lanka in January but tore ligaments in his knee and experienced a lengthy injury layoff.

Elgar's call-up will be seen as a long time coming, given that he has long hovered around the national set-up and is considered to be the future. But going back to the past has not always hurt South Africa. Vernon Philander, Rory Kleinveldt and Hashim Amla are cases in point and could serve as the example to recall an old hand.

All three of Ontong, Prince and Ingram have been in good form and are difficult to look past. For Ontong, being re-selected could be a coming full circle after his last tour of Australia - the traumatic 2001-02 series where he was picked over Jacques Rudolph. Of the middle-order batsmen last season, Ontong was the top scorer. In nine matches, he scored 658 runs at an average of 59.81, with two hundreds and four fifties. He is currently captaining the Cobras and has been involved in the limited-overs squads.

For Prince, anther nod would also be a completion of something. He lost his place after the 2008 injury to Duminy and although he would never wish to get it back in the same fashion, it may be fate's way of repaying him. Since Prince was dropped after the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka in Durban last December, he has done well for Lancashire and started this season with 213 runs in three matches for the Warriors. He remains a nationally contracted player and Andrew Hudson, convenor of selectors, said at the time of Prince's exit that he would remain in their thoughts.

Prince's experience would not go unnoticed either, especially as it is a trait Gary Kirsten has placed great value in. But it could also be a quality which works against him. South African management may not fancy calling Prince up only to put him on the bench, which is the domain of rookies.

For that reason, Ingram could come into contention having played in the limited-overs sides but never being part of the Test squad. Ingram fell out of favour after the ODI series against Sri Lanka in January but has been churning out the runs at franchise level. His 270 runs in three matches this season have come at an average of 54.00.

With South African cricket making a noticeable effort to reward performances at domestic level, any of these players would be deserving of their place, just as Duminy was four years ago.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dj on November 11, 2012, 5:43 GMT

    Most likely Faf . He seems to always have unlimited opportunities , while other newcomers get dropped after one or two bad performances.Looking for this to continue on this tour.

  • Paul on November 11, 2012, 5:20 GMT

    You are kidding about Prince, aren't you, Firdose? If you want experience and form, the only obvious choice is Neil McKenzie. But I don't belive either should be selected - Ontong in same boat - as we need to blood new talent. Quinton de Kock, for the experience of being in the squad while Faf fills in for J-P would be my call.

  • Dummy4 on November 11, 2012, 0:34 GMT

    From South Africa's point of view this is a shame even I was looking forward to watching him bat, not a bad bowler either

  • Jay on November 10, 2012, 19:34 GMT

    FAF u beauty !!! Can't see anyone better than Du Plessis to take up that middle order role. Plus, he can also bowl some leg spin which could be handy against the Aussies who are weak against spin bowling in general. Anyway, good luck to Du Plessis and best wishes to JP for a speedy recovery.

  • Basistha on November 10, 2012, 17:14 GMT

    I dont understand why anyone would be excited about du Plessis. I don't think he's made the most out of the chances he's got in the ODI level: an average of 28 odd after 24 knocks (4 fifties against fairly lacklustre bowling). Maybe I'm just sour that he got AB, who was batting like a king, run-out in that quarterfinal game against NZ in WC'11. I understand he might be phenomenal in the domestic circuit, but once a player misses out on the chance to prove himself on the international level, the team should look at other options. I have to agree he's a brilliant fielder, but you gotta have more than that to seal your spot in the SA middle order.

  • Dummy4 on November 10, 2012, 16:42 GMT

    Get in Quintin deKock - that kid is super impressive.

  • Mario on November 10, 2012, 16:40 GMT

    Faf is the man for the job, he is an excellent batsman who not only can bat for long periods but knows how to bat with the tail, he can bowl a bit of leg spin and he's the best fielder in the country. SA have an embarrassment of riches at the moment with Faf, JP, Rudolph and many others effectively fighting for 1 spot. Only the ability of AB is allowing for a second slot, and i don't think AB should be taking the gloves. Tsolekile is an excellent gloveman and his batting is much improved, aside from him there's the very young de Kock who has been immense for the Lions in the longer game.

  • mahjut on November 10, 2012, 15:34 GMT

    @RyanHarrisGreatCricketer - JP worked hard on his batting issues (which were more confidence than anything else) and has looked very good in the past 8-12 months. This is a BIG loss, in what was really beginning to look a very balanced side. The first thing to do is get tahir back in the side ... this 'JP' problem is less desperate as there are replacements. I think Tsolokile is a return to the Bouch era! I don't think anyone is joking about Prince - he was a soldier for the proteas and has never really earned a dropping - but with 4 years between him and Rudolph, i think Rudolph should now be persited with a bit for now. So, it still points to Faf for me but if Elgar has improved his bowling (considerably) then OK

  • Dummy4 on November 10, 2012, 15:11 GMT

    We miss you duminy, come back quickly cricket fans waiting for you

  • Dummy4 on November 10, 2012, 14:15 GMT

    collin ingram ??? where is he now a days !!

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