Pakistan v South Africa 2013-14 October 7, 2013

Duminy prepares for more spin responsibilities

With South Africa unlikely to deviate from their strategy of seven batsmen and three seamers, Duminy will have to get accustomed to being the second spinner, starting from this tour

JP Duminy will not be drawn into discussing in detail exactly how he felt when the back of his ankle popped, as he described it last November in Brisbane, rupturing his Achilles' and condemning him to six months on the sidelines. But it must have been some shade of disappointment, especially considering the stage of his career he was in.

His replacement for the remainder of that series against Australia, Faf du Plessis, remembered Duminy being in "peak condition," at the time and predicted he would play a crucial role in the contest. Du Plessis' assessment was based on Duminy's form over the previous nine months - he scored a century on his comeback against New Zealand and an important 60 in South Africa's mace-winning victory over England at Lord's - and the increased responsibility the management team were about to give him.

In last November's Australia series, Duminy was due to graduate from a part-time bowler into a more important part of the attack. He was picked as the sole spinner in the Test he took no part in. It's been 11 months since then and South Africa have been given a second opportunity to see whether that strategy could work.

Russell Domingo, the coach, confirmed Duminy will slot back into the starting XI and that his bowling is one of the reasons for that. In conditions which are certain to offer something to the spinners and with a team make-up that seems uncertain to deviate from its seven batsmen-three seamer strategy, Duminy will have to play the role of the second spinner.

He seems to have identified that as being a job that will require holding up an end. "Consistency in my length is key to my bowling performance so that's what I am going to keep working on," he said. "There's a lot of responsibility that goes with bowling more. I am not going to put too much pressure on bowling miracle balls.

"So I've been bowling a lot because the amount of overs you put in gives you some confidence. And I've also been discussing fields and strategies with Claude Henderson (spin consultant). It's just about having game-plans in place, especially with the wickets turning more."

Duminy will have a first opportunity to sample his new job during South Africa's only warm-up match, a three-day affair against Pakistan A in Sharjah, which gets underway tomorrow. The match will be Duminy's second outing in whites since making his comeback in June.

Playing for South Africa A, he top-scored in the first innings with 84 and took three wickets in India A's first innings. Despite being in the squad for the second match as well, Duminy was thought to have done enough to show that he had not lost what it took to play in the longest format and he was not included in the next XI.

Lack of first-class game time is always a concern for players making comebacks but Duminy is confident of being able to get back into Test cricket habits quickly. "I am pretty happy to be slotting back in. Even though I had a long layoff, the last two months has been really good from a performance point of view so I am excited to be back in Test cricket again," he said. "It's just like riding a bike and I will be trying not to do too much differently."

The whole South African unit is thinking along the same lines and basing their game plan on doing things the same way they always have. But they also know keeping the challengers to their No.1 spot at bay will not be easy. Even beating Pakistan 2-0 in the UAE will only result in a gain of one point on the ranking. Any other outcome will result in them losing a point. That's why, despite the gap between the two sides (Pakistan are at No.6), this series is actually worth a lot more than face value suggests it is.

Duminy, for one, knows that. "We are coming here expected to do well being No.1. We are going to be under pressure. The quicker we accept that, the easier it will be," he said.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Blessing on October 8, 2013, 13:37 GMT

    With all due respect to Pak I don't see them coming close to winning the series, the best they can do is push for a draw.SA on paper looks far to big an obstacle for them.@ NixNixon Imran Tahir for Morris and that's the best and most likely team to take on the field first test- I'm amazed you don't have a outright spinner in your team when the conditions will suit spinners .

  • Shoaib on October 8, 2013, 7:23 GMT

    lol Duminy can't even turn the ball. Imran Tahir would've been a wise move and did pretty well in CL20.

  • ZCF on October 8, 2013, 5:43 GMT

    Typo. 13 matches for Rudolph. Anyway, Zimbabwe beat Pakistan, having dominated them in all but 2-3 sessions in the entire series. This might be UAE conditions, but if that Proteas side doesn't fancy its chances then that's pathetic in my view. This Pakistan side is a pale shadow of itself. Rehman is nolonger that potent, while every batsman worth his salt should have figured Ajmal out by now to have a 50% chance against him. Quit whining and bring on the changes!

  • Ross on October 8, 2013, 5:31 GMT

    Steven Harmer really should have been there.

  • ZCF on October 8, 2013, 5:15 GMT

    Over the last 2 years Rudolph has averaged 33 in 23 matches, while Elgar averaged 32 in 6. I'm more than confident that Buvuma can do just as well if not better than all of them if given a similar chance. While Elgar was outstanding against Aus A, Bavuma was our best specialist batsman more recently against Ind A. Faf for me is on a decline, bit if he's willing to open I'm more than happy to drop Elgar for him. Anyway, it all comes down to recent statements from CSA. None of you can conclusively argue why these players should not be in the XI considering the kind of mediocrity we've witnessed from some selections(Tahir, RobbieP, Elgar, Kleinveldt, de Kock etc). It's the same narrowmindedness that's pushed CSA towards quotas.

  • Norman on October 8, 2013, 0:19 GMT

    Why am i still surprised at some of the nonsense people post. Rebuilding? Now? We haven't even been number 1 for 2 seconds and there are already talks of disposing of the people who got us there? Kallis will soon(hopefully only 2018) retire, which will leave a huge gap in SA cricket. I am certain that whoever gets chosen to replace him will be chosen on merit. Nothing else. As for the others, well, they're not going anywhere, anytime soon mr loudcast. I would love to see a team that has an equal representation of our wonderfully diverse country. Unfortunately that just is not realistic. Are we simply going to throw people into the number 1 side in the world because we want to create a perfect rainbow team? You perform in first class cricket, you get recognised and eventually selected. Philander is a great example. There aren't any free passes here. If ya don't got what it takes, there ain't no place for ya. Why do i even bother...

  • Dummy4 on October 7, 2013, 23:38 GMT

    @mzm149, bro using anti-lahore is very dramatic, even after the names you have placed there they are still many players in the current squad. Seems like you have been spoiled by previous selections. Likes of Nasir Jmashed and Umar Akmal have not done well in test cricket, and have been rightly sidelined. They are a must for ODI though, and should be brought back for tests if they perform in list A, QEA, and presidents trophy. People take these tournaments for granted and people like Harris Sohail, Fawad Alam, and Akber-ur-rehman miss out due to politics. Taufeeq Umar i feel bad for, and want him to open with Khuram Manzoor..don't know why people are against this guy, he hasn't been given chances at all, every time he made a comeback he was dropped shortly after. I remember his centuries against SL, great knock against Aus in Australia where everyone failed, and just recently in Zimbabwe. Wahab Riaz is a waste of a bowler, reminds me of Sami, has no line and length. Give Rahat some time

  • Dummy4 on October 7, 2013, 23:36 GMT

    It seems to be clear that SA is going to play two spinners. Squad for 1st test: Alviro, Smith, Amla, Kallis, De Villiers, Du Plessis, Duminy, Peterson, Philander, Steyn, Morkel

  • Harjinder on October 7, 2013, 21:10 GMT

    Yes , ELGAR should be given a chance here as allrounder because he can bowl very good spin here, I dnt think SA should still look for Smith and KALLIS any more ....

  • Jurie on October 7, 2013, 18:53 GMT

    Please don't let Peterson play, but Domingo favors him from his Warriors days...has to be Tahir

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