IPL 2014 May 1, 2014

South Africa's stocks rise with Miller, Duminy

The circumstances in which the pair have scored their fifties bodes well not only for their franchises but for South Africa as well

South Africa's batsmen have often borne the blame for the ICC tournament failings, usually as a collective. Sometimes it is a simple case of them not putting on enough on the board (think Champions Trophy semi-final 2013); other times there are criticisms over the way they were composed, which dominated the aftermath of this year's World T20. An aspect there has always been consensus on is that, individually, the people picked to represent South Africa are of fine fettle, and one need not look further than a foreign-based T20 league for proof of that.

Keep in mind that the quality of bowling is inferior to what it would be at the international level, the boundaries could be smaller and the conditions different but it is still difficult not to notice the performances of JP Duminy and David Miller, in particular, and the circumstances in which they have scored their runs.

Duminy has blossomed in the shortest format since making a return from a snapped Achilles' tendon, sustained on South Africa's 2013 tour to Australia, last June. In 13 T20s between August 2013 and April this year , he scored 390 runs, averaged 55.71 (compared with 37.27 overall) and scored three half-centuries. Add to that the seven wickets he has taken and it is hardly a surprise South Africa's coach Russell Domingo calls him "our best T20 player at the moment," and Gary Kirsten wanted him in his Delhi Daredevils side.

His two fifties have come at opportune times for the team, rescuing them from 17 for 3 in their first match, which they lost to Royal Challengers Bangalore, and then helping them chase 167 against Kolkata Knight Riders in the second game.

Miller's role in Kings XI Punjab's successes was less expected and more notable because of the context in which it happened. Miller has been batting at No.5, higher than he would be at international cricket but in the same position he plays at for his domestic franchise, the Dolphins. In that spot, Miller has the perfect mix of time to settle in but not too much time so he still experiences the pressure associated with being tasked with accelerating the innings.

In the first match, Miller was at the crease in the sixth over and batted through the innings as Kings XI chased a massive 206. In the second game, Miller was playing more of the role he has been earmarked for with South Africa - finishing. He was called upon in the 14th over with Kings XI needing 66 off 37 balls and he was asked to take them over the line.

With 51 off 19 balls, Miller was at his blazing best and performed in a way he has often promised to at national level but has yet to actually do. Miller has not yet scored a fifty for South Africa in a T20 but he has also not had the right mix of opportunity and circumstance to do so.

Perhaps he has also not had the support. Glenn Maxwell has overshadowed Miller, and everyone else, in the bigger picture and he has provided the spark which has produced enough light for Miller to shine too.

The tournament is still in its early stages and all of this could become little more than a footnote once the competition is over. But the early signs are that South African stocks are rising and the resources they have at their disposal, especially Miller, when properly used, are an asset. And that's before even mentioning Jacques Kallis.

Although he is no longer available to play international T20s, Kallis wants to get as much game time in limited-overs' formats as possible before the 2015 World Cup, which he still has ambitions to play in. After scoring a half-century in Knight Riders' opener, Kallis has not crossed that mark again but he has done more than his fair share of bowling to prove his match fitness and commitment, which he will hope will earn him that World Cup spot.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent