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World Cup 2011

Duminy ready to lead South Africa middle order

Firdose Moonda in Bangalore

February 17, 2011

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JP Duminy pulls a short ball, South Africa v India, 2nd ODI, Johannesburg, January 15, 2011
JP Duminy will have to assume a senior role in South Africa's middle order © AFP
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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."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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Comments: 21 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (February 18, 2011, 12:36 GMT)

I reckon there are two teams in this world cup who are most likely to win the world cup. One is South Africa and the other is Sir Lanka. Both very strong South Africa maybe have the edge but slightly because Styein, Kallis, Amala & A.B Deviliers are great players real match winners. Even J.P Dumminy can win a match for South Africa. Sir Lanka also have match winners Murali, Sangakara, Jaiwardia & Matthews. I hope one of these two teams wins.

Posted by Lalith on (February 18, 2011, 9:37 GMT)

Weekest link is middle order and spin department. If 4 wickets down for less than 100 then SA strugle. Anyway SA is the second best after India for me. History does not help them as SA find a way to loose at SF. The same can repeat in this WC too.

Posted by nalin on (February 18, 2011, 7:36 GMT)

SOUTH AFRICAN BOWLING IS MORE BALANCED THAN USUAL as they have picked some effective spinners to complement their pace bowlers rather than manufacturing two bit allrounders. On the negative side lack of allrounders means that the depth of batting necessary for the latter overs may be limited. South Africa's success in the practice match against Australia implies their bowling is better balanced and they can put the brakes on the opposition like Sri Lanka did in 1996 with their spinners but the hypothetical question is will they have the guts to pick 2 specialist spinners?

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 18, 2011, 6:53 GMT)

Duminy and Botha needs to take the responsibilty of handling the Saffa's lower middle order and if Parnell can bring his U-19 Batting form into game, then they are sure to Bully their way in thiis tournament...

Posted by Fadzai on (February 18, 2011, 6:44 GMT)

SA will qualify to the QF well ahead of India, and if India is not up to scratch they will qualify 3rd after England. This means they will face either Aus or Sri Lanka in the QF and that will be the end of them.!!!! All the best Sri Lanka and SA

Posted by saumitra on (February 18, 2011, 6:02 GMT)

@Lakpj, SL is a good team but its middle order is way worse then SA, also SA has a better batting and seam bowling line up overall , for me SL is the third strongest team after IND and SA

Posted by diren on (February 18, 2011, 5:57 GMT)

JP is a awsome player, In the recent series against India he played some top class innings for SA where he came in under pressure and batted through untill the end where he slogged....he is one to watch at this WC

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 18, 2011, 5:56 GMT)

just for the sake of being fair...i would really hope Eng & SA...get into the finals & see how many people show up making them lose money....this might even the playing field in the future.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 18, 2011, 3:55 GMT)

SA have got everything to do well in this WC but they just have missed trick by not picking A.Morkel. SA need SIX hitter at the end of the INN that is Last 10 overs and they miss that personality. In all other matter SA are superior than anyone else this WC. I just hope and pray SA win this WC and make us proud.

Posted by Bharat on (February 18, 2011, 3:35 GMT)

Yes true ! they dont have big hitters down the order. I really dont understand why they didnt pick Albie in the side look if albie would have picked up then they would have got the option to pick up two spinners and two pacers, albie gives such balance to the side and evrybody knows how dangerous he is! but nevr mind who knows faf du plesis or morne van wyke might turn as next Klusner to finish up the match I think Morne Wyke should play,He is also capable of big hitting.Being an Indian But still I am great fan of SA I really want SA to win the cup...come on SA u have to show that u r no more chokers,Remember the historic match against AUS.where they chased down impossible target of 434 so smith should motivate his player by showing this match in thier dressing room .My SA team smith,Amla,kallis,AB,JP,morne wyke,plesis,Botha,tahir,styen,Morkel.My Best wishes to SA......

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