JP Duminy fired South Africa's second serious shot at their World Cup chances with less than two weeks to go before they head to Australia and New Zealand. After AB de Villiers called his men "the team to beat" at the tournament even after they lost 1-4 in Australia, Duminy said South Africa are "quietly confident of what we can do," when they get there.
"We definitely have the make up to go all the way. We understand it's up to us to make that happen," Duminy said in Port Elizabeth ahead of the fourth ODI against West Indies. "We are not a blasé team that's going to say a lot of things before going into a big tournament like that but we are quietly confident of what we can do and the capability of what we hold as a squad. I am almost at that stage where I can't wait to get there."
With one foot on the plane in the best way possible, South Africa have to remind themselves even though the job is done at home, they are not quite at the World Cup yet. "We want to get the ball rolling but we also understand that preparation is key. We've got to make sure we do not take our foot off the pedal in our last two games here," Duminy said.
Why? Because the dead rubbers can be used as practice for when South Africa are required to reel off positive results when it really matters. "To be successful at the World Cup, you are probably going to have to win back-to-back games. We've won three in a row but the challenge for us is to go four-nil up; to go five-nil up and put ourselves under that sort of pressure," Duminy said. "If we can do that convincingly in this series, we'll take a lot of confidence out of that."
On the evidence of the West Indies' performances so far, which have gone from lethargic in the first ODI to near-comatose by the third, South Africa should not have too many problems doing that. Apart from a lack of competitiveness, the visitors have left the two aspects of South Africa's game which could have been exposed, the middle-order and the death bowling, untested which has only added to South Africa's bravado.
But it has meant Duminy, David Miller and Farhaan Behardien have had had limited time in the middle, and for Duminy, who has only just returned from two months on the sidelines, that could be a concern. He is trying his best not to let it become one and on his first ball back, he slammed a six to announce his intent. "It was the ideal way to make a comeback - first ball back, hitting it over - it was almost like a signature shot," he said, but quickly back-pedaled. "I also know it's very much a false sense of security and I don't want to read too much into it. The opportunities that I get before the World Cup are important and I need to make the most of them."
So far, Duminy's chances have come more with the ball. Considering he was not sure how much he would be able to bowl after the injury, getting overs in may be more important than crease time ahead of the World Cup. Although South Africa have two specialist spinners in their squad, they are unlikely to play them both in the same match and Duminy will have to bear some of the load, especially after the first Powerplay. "We only have three seamers with Farhaan Behardien the fourth seaming option so I am probably going to have to get the ball pretty early in terms of the make up of our bowling unit," he said. "It's a good challenge for me to get into the game early and try to make some inroads."
He has not managed to take any wickets against West Indies yet but admitted he did not expect everything to go right in the build-up. "You are never going to have the perfect preparation. You must just manage it pretty well in terms of what you do and what you take out of what actually happens" Duminy said. "Everybody wants a perfect scenario but you have to control what you do throughout the chaos you are surrounded by in the preparation for the World Cup."
Ironically, it will be West Indies, not South Africa, who can take heart from those words. Their preparatory period has been far from ideal but Duminy still thinks they could get it together before they meet South Africa at the tournament on February 27. "We are going to play against West Indies in the third game of the World Cup and I can guarantee you they are not going to put in a performance like they have over the last three games. They are going to come out fighting.
"We don't want to be too blasé about the performances they've had. When you are going to a big tournament as much as you want to take confidence out of previous series, it actually means nothing because it's about how you perform on the day."
This time, Duminy thinks most of those days will be South Africa's.