February 18, 2016

Duminy, South Africa's Graeme Hick?

Willem Swart
Touted as the next big thing after his spectacular Test entry, JP Duminy hasn't consistently delivered against top-quality opposition

Like Hick, Duminy averages well above 50 in non-Test first-class matches © Getty Images

December 2008, JP Duminy scored a masterful 166 runs against the then No. 1 side in the world, Australia, in only his third Test innings, batting with the tail. South Africa won the Test and their first series victory in Australian. JP Duminy became a star, and everyone hailed the future king of batting.

On 11 October 2009, former Australian captain Ian Chappell referred to him as a great in the making with comparisons to Ricky Ponting. Unfortunately, this may just be the second big punt in recent cricket history that has ended up as just that, a punt.

On Sunday 14th February 2016 South Africa came back from 2-0 down to win the ODI series against England 3-2 with a comprehensive victory against England at Newlands, Cape Town.

Omitted from South Africa's starting XI was JP Duminy, a veteran of 150 ODI matches for his country, left out from the team in the crunch match of the series, on his home ground.

On first impression one might believe JP's omission was due to his recent poor run of form, and the fact that he was involved in the unfortunate run-out of captain AB De Villiers in the fourth ODI at Johannesburg.

However, it may also just be the last nail in the coffin that has been forced in, oh so gentle over a prolonged period of sub-par performances.

During JP's career, the odd flash of style and brilliance has been overshadowed by plenty of failures at the highest level. A career that imitates the frustration and sad truth of England's troubled genius, Graeme Hick. Both players were given ample opportunity to play for their country, both players failed to consistently produce or live up to the expectations. A comparison between their first-class and Test records reflect an interesting reality. Both players have a Test average in the low thirties, while both averages in the high 50s in all other first-class cricket.

Graeme Hick
Format MAT INNS NO RUNS AVG 100 50 I/100 I/50
 Test  65  114  6  3383  31.32  6  18  19  4.75
 All Other FC  461  757  78  37729  55.57  130  140  5.82  2.8

JP Duminy
Format MAT INNS NO RUNS AVG 100 50 I/100 I/50
 Test  34  53  9  1423  32.34  4  6  13.25  5.3
 All Other FC  61  99  17  4646  56.66  14  22  7.07  2.75

Analysing Duminy's ODI career reflects an average of only 28.60 against the stronger teams in this era (Australia, England, Pakistan, New Zealand, India and Sri Lanka). His average against the weaker sides is 76.50, as tabled below. All four of his ODI hundreds have been against Zimbabwe (3) and the Netherlands.

JP Duminy
Opposition MAT INNS NO RUNS AVG 100 50 I/100 I/50
 Major teams  103  95  13  2345  28.6  0  13  -  7.31
 Minor teams  47  40  18  1683  76.5  4  8  10  3.33

Both Hick and Duminy's international careers have been marred by disappointing performances, being sidelined and recalled again after scoring heavily on the domestic circuits. Both their techniques were found out at the highest level, neither was able to adapt.

Every now and then one is blessed to witness a stylish cover drive, a run-a-ball fifty to guide the team to safety.

And then the reality steps in when the short-ball is bumped in the air, or the straight one from the slow bowler thumps into the pad, again.

And when the days play is over, and the sun has set, the punters are reminiscing on what could have been, why wasn't it? How could they get it so wrong?

Is JP Duminy just another misunderstood enigma, a failed genius, a Graeme Hick, or maybe, just maybe an unfair comparison, an unfair expectation, a wishful punt?

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