ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
World Cup 2011
Duminy ready to lead South Africa middle order
Firdose Moonda in Bangalore
February 17, 2011
JP Duminy is ready to marshal the South African middle order, especially the lower half, which is inexperienced and unsettled ahead of the World Cup. "There's a little bit more responsibility on my shoulders and it's something I am looking forward to," he said in Bangalore.
Duminy is only 26 years and 71 ODIs old but he is the senior batsman from positions five to seven in the South African order and the only one who can be certain of his place. Colin Ingram, Faf du Plessis, Johan Botha, Robin Peterson and Morne van Wyk are likely to be rotated in the other two places. Any combination of those players, although solid on paper, lacks a certain degree of firepower, so Duminy will have the dual role of anchoring and adding impetus.
The middle order has been untested in the two warm-up games so far with only Duminy getting significant time at the crease in his unbeaten 47 against Australia on Tuesday. "I had decent time out in the middle in the previous game so I am not really worried," Duminy said. It was an innings that started off sluggishly while both he and du Plessis struggled to settle down. The benefit of that knock is that it gave Duminy time to get his eye in and by the end of it, he was looking as classy as always.
Although the warm-ups served the purpose of giving the top order a good run, it means the rest of the batsmen will have to "work behind the scenes and get ready for the first match." Their main concern will be avoiding mini-collapses like the ones they suffered at the hands of India in the recently completed ODI series and forming the powerful finishing force that they were once renowned for. "Hopefully… the middle order can carry us through towards the back end of the innings."
It's as unfamiliar to see a South African side struggling with impactful hitters down their order as it is to see them bring so many spinners on tour. Although they have three frontline and two part-time spinners in the 15-man squad, Duminy said the essential tenet of their bowling philosophy has not changed. "We rely on our pace attack to do the bulk of the work." Morne Morkel was the danger man in the first warm-up against Zimbabwe while Dale Steyn was the spearhead against Australia.
Quick bowlers have traditionally formed the base of the South African attack but they realised they'll have to change their approach in the subcontinent. It has paid off as Peterson and Imran Tahir have taken nine wickets between them in the two practice matches. "Coming into these conditions we are going to need a couple of spinning options," Duminy said.
He is part of the slower bowling clutch that will hope to be the difference between this World Cup squad and those of tournaments past. "We'll rely on the seam attack to strike upfront but hopefully our spinners can do the job in the middle as well." Duminy said that the quicker and slower balls will have to combine well in order to make the most out of pitches that will offer something for one or the other of them. "It's going to be a mixture of the two [seam and spin]. The pitch here at Bangalore was more seamer friendly, but in the others we've seen, especially when India have played, have had their spinners doing the work. It's going to be a balance for us."
The equilibrium for South Africa has to be reached early, because the bowling is not the only thing they are juggling. They have more youth than experience, which is why Duminy will have to assume one of the senior roles, and getting the balance between the youth and the more seasoned players will be crucial. "It's a young-looking side but it's not necessarily a bad thing."
One of the advantages of having so many players making their World Cup debut is that they can remove themselves from the chokers label that has been attached to South African teams in previous tournaments. "We know that tag hunts us quite a bit but there are a lot of new faces in the team. Hopefully that tag won't bother us too much in going all the way in this tournament.
Duminy is one of the rookies who has not been tainted by disappointments of previous World Cup failings. He and the eleven other tournament debutants bring with them a hunger to wipe out the mistakes of the past and start rewriting the legacy South Africa leave behind. It will be a massive achievement, considering the unconventional approach from South Africa. "We've been putting building blocks in place before the first game and we are looking forward to the challenge."
|Comments have now been closed for this article
ESPNcricinfo looks at five reasons for England's failure to compete in Australia