ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features
World Cup 2011
Resurgent Duminy rides new wave
JP Duminy's career is still defined by his match-winning century in his debut Test series against Australia, but he is now ready to add more dimensions to it
Firdose Moonda in Nagpur
March 11, 2011
JP Duminy in mid-air, bat in one hand, punching air with the other, smile as wide as the distance between third man and long-on and Mark Nicholas' voice saying, "You beauty, you superstar!" It's that image and those words that christened Duminy into international cricket after a match-winning century in Melbourne that saw South Africa win the Test and the series against Australia.
Almost three years have passed and those two things still define his career but he is ready to add to it. "I place a lot of expectation on myself," Duminy told ESPNcricinfo in Nagpur. "My own goals aren't necessarily score-oriented but to put in performances when the team needs me most."
It's a big statement to make for someone who can still be considered a young player, 26 years old and 26 ODIs away from playing 100, but Duminy has had to grow up quickly. In a team where youth is sprouting regularly, Duminy is one of the most experienced and his role, at No. 5 in the batting line-up, is a crucial one. "I have to play a sort of in-between role and I try to help out the younger players when I can but also learn where I can. "
It's not just from a personality perspective that Duminy has to be sandwiched between two worlds, but also at the crease. With the top four of Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers shouldering the bulk of the run-scoring responsibility, it means Duminy's role changes with the situation.
In all likelihood, he may have to support one of the top four but if there is a collapse, he will have to play a role similar to the one they would, steadying the ship while marshalling the lower order, a consolidator and aggressor. If there is a platform laid for him, he has to come and take off - like he did against Netherlands in Mohali. "I really enjoyed that innings, because it was one of those situations where I could just go for it. The timing was there, I had been working hard in the nets and it was good to see it come off."
Things have all started coming back together for Duminy, which may he why he was so pleased with the way his plan worked against Netherlands. It wasn't always this way. After a tough 2009-10 season, in which South Africa fared poorly against England, he averaged below 30 and there was continued criticism about his ability to play the short ball. The shooting star he once was came crashing down to earth in dramatic fashion. He lost his place in the national side along with some of his confidence.
"It wasn't easy," he said. "I got to a stage where I was training harder and harder and nothing was changing." Having fared so well against Australia, who were then ranked No 1, Duminy found it "difficult to accept what was going on." He didn't resort to anything drastic, no major changes in technique although some had told him that was the only solution. "I decided to just ride the wave, knowing that things would get better."
The mending began with a century against Zimbabwe at the start of the season. This time - unlike the season before, when his first ODI century against the same hapless Zimbabwe attack was the highlight - it was the start of a new beginning. Two half-centuries against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, three against India at home, even more of a can-do attitude than before and Duminy is ready to start creating more images of his career.
This is the second time he is visiting the subcontinent in the past year. He batted only once the last time, and knows that the demands on him will be much greater this time. "I expected the same things at this World Cup as with a tour to India, conditions wise, but obviously being the World Cup, it would be longer with more breaks in between." With the time Duminy has spent in the IPL, the conditions are no surprise to him. "Spin plays a major role and you have to get your head around that, but I haven't made any big adjustments."
The change, if there is one, is in the team itself. South Africa, once known for being predictable and formulaic, have a dynamic bowling attack and an attitude that they believe will counter accusations of failing under pressure. "As a team we want to help and support each other as much as possible. The team comes first and we all want to do as best as we can for that." It sounds as if the next image Duminy wants to define his career with is one with 14 other squad members and maybe a World Cup trophy.
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