Duminy wants to test leadership skills
Not right now, maybe not at Test level and perhaps not even for South Africa, but JP Duminy is certain of one thing: he wants to be a captain. The allrounder was understood to be one of four candidates under consideration to succeed Graeme Smith, and although Duminy did not get the job or even officially apply for it, he said he would not be averse to becoming an authority figure in the future.
"I saw my name there. I didn't particularly throw my name in the hat but it's definitely something I have thought about - not necessarily only in Test cricket but also in different formats, maybe even for Delhi [Daredevils] sometime. Definitely in the future, I would like to step into that role," Duminy said at the South African squad's fitness camp in Pretoria. "I've played enough cricket to know what it's about and so it's about testing myself - whether I can do the job. I am looking forward to the challenge if it comes."
Duminy has played only 24 Tests but has a decade of international experience and has fast become part of the senior core, which includes vice-captain and ODI leader AB de Villiers, T20 captain Faf du Plessis, pace spearhead Dale Steyn and the captain Hashim Amla. Duminy believes the group of players, rather than one big personality, will be the men to collectively take South Africa forward.
"Graeme was a guy that led from the front in terms of his aura about himself and the way he conducted himself," Duminy said. "I don't think we (the current players) could fit into that role so we've got to stick together in terms of what we are trying to achieve as a senior's group. We've got a good understanding between us. We've got to focus on what we are trying to do - play good cricket and dominate the international circuit."
The above quartet and Amla have 278 Test caps among them, which is still short of the 283 Smith and Kallis had, but suggests South Africa are not gasping with inexperience. For Duminy, it also presents an opportunity for whom the team manager Mohammad Moosajee called the "second-generation" leaders to leave their own legacy. "It's a big loss for us in terms of Graeme and Jacques but the game does go on and we have an opportunity as the new breed of players to step in and fulfill that role as seniors," Duminy said
Duminy has already showed willingness to embrace extra responsibility after being tasked with an all-round role following Kallis' retirement in December. Not only did Duminy bowl more Test overs and take more wickets in the 2013-14 season than at any stage of his career, he also had his best summer with the bat since he first appeared in 2008-09, when he made the century against Australia that remains his career-best score.
Duminy said he enjoyed being given a bigger role, especially as a bowler, and felt it "brought the best out of me in terms of my game." He also identified the next eight months as a test of whether he can "sustain that responsibility."
He is not the only member of the squad who will asked to contribute more. Morne Morkel, who joked that he told a member of the public he wanted to be the next Test captain and the fan swiftly advised him it was a not a good idea, said all the experienced players would need to pull their weight. "We also need to step up and deliver the goods," Morkel said. "We want to back Hashim and play for him and make his life easier."
Like Morkel, Amla goes about his business quietly, which may be why the fast bowler endorsed his more subtle style of leadership. "Hashim has been leading in the background before he was captain," Morkel said. "I don't think it will be a massive change - yes the personality might be a bit different to Graeme but we are all used to Hashim, its nothing new for us."
More importantly for Morkel, Amla will lead by example. "A leader doesn't have to talk and say all the nice things. A leader goes out and scores runs or does well and that's when people follow. Hashim ticks all those boxes," Morkel said. "He goes out in tough conditions and he scores runs. When guys are bowling fast, he delivers - that's the sign of a quality leader and it inspires guys to do those things too. It's not all about words, we know all of those things, it's about going out and fronting up."
No one will argue that Amla is not the best example of that - not even those who were competing with him for the job and who may take it off him in the future.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent