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Numbers Game

Duminy's downward spiral

The start to JP Duminy's Test career was impressive, but in the last three-and-a-half years he has done little to justify his place in the team

S Rajesh
S Rajesh
JP Duminy's Test career, before 2013 and since then, August 25, 2016

JP Duminy has struggled for runs in Tests over the last three-and-a-half years  •  ESPNcricinfo Ltd

On his debut Test, against Australia in 2008, JP Duminy was involved in a historic run-chase: South Africa overhauled a fourth-innings target of 414 in Perth, the second-highest successful run-chase ever in Test history. Duminy's contribution to this mighty effort was a not-insignificant unbeaten 50, and his unbroken 111-run stand for the fifth wicket with AB de Villiers ensured a smooth chase, with no hiccups towards the end. In the next Test, on Boxing Day in Melbourne, Duminy made a superb 166, powering South Africa from 251 for 8 to 459, and played a key role in a nine-wicket win that sealed the series. Duminy was only 24 then, and it seemed South Africa had unearthed a gem who would be a mainstay in the middle order for years to come.
Eight years later, the narrative - from the Test perspective at least - has changed and is one of unfulfilled promise. His ODI and T20I records are healthy - he averages more than 38 in each - but in Tests he has slipped considerably. After 35 Tests, his batting average has dropped to less than 32, which hardly does justice to the potential that was obvious in his early performances.
Till the end of 2012, the Test numbers were still healthy: after 17 matches, he averaged 37.57. It wasn't earthshattering, but it was a solid base to build from: many top batsmen in Tests have averaged in the late 30s in the first few years, before going on a roll and taking that number much higher. Duminy was 28 at the end of 2012, an age which many believe is the start of the peak period for batsmen.
What has followed since, though, is anything but a player at the peak of his powers. It is true that he has also been unlucky with injuries, and has missed some of South Africa's 29 Tests since 2013 because of them, but even in the Tests he has played his numbers have been underwhelming. In his last 18 Tests he averages 27, with only six 30-plus scores in 28 innings during this period. He has gone 11 innings with a half-century, and in 14 innings since his last century, he averages 16.76, with only one 40-plus score.
There has been no such slump in the limited-overs formats, though: he averages 35.32 in ODIs (strike rate 83) and 50.14 in T20Is (SR 125) during this period.
JP Duminy's Test career
Period Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
 Till 2012  17  789  37.57  2/ 4
 2013 onwards  18  648  27.00  2/ 2
Duminy began his Test career batting at No. 6, and has largely stayed there through his career so far, instead of moving up the order as most batsmen tend to. Of the 54 innings he has played, 26 have been at No. 6 and 17 at No. 7, while only six times he has batted higher than No. 6. One of those instances was against New Zealand in Wellington in 2012, when he scored 103 from No. 4, but that didn't lead to a more permanent spot higher up the order. In 43 innings at Nos. 6 and 7, Duminy's average is a mediocre 25.17, the lowest among the batsmen who have batted at least 25 times at these positions since December 2008. There are three wicketkeepers among the five players with the poorest averages at these positions, with the only other specialist batsman being another left-hander who bowls some offspin, Suresh Raina.
Duminy's Test record at different batting positions
Positions Innings Runs Average 100s/ 50s
 Nos. 4 & 5  6  212  42.40  1/0
 Nos. 6 & 7  43  982  25.17  2/ 6
 No. 8  5  243  243.00  1/ 0
Poorest averages at Nos. 6 and 7 in Tests since Dec 2008 (Min 25 inngs)
Player Inns Runs Average 100s/ 50s
 JP Duminy  43  982  25.17  2/ 6
 Mark Boucher  30  709  25.32  0/ 3
 Denesh Ramdin  72  1862  28.64  4/ 9
 Suresh Raina  26  747  31.12  1/ 7
 Prasanna Jayawardene  49  1372  32.66  3/ 2
Duminy's average of 27.13 when batting in the top seven positions is also among the poorest for batsmen who have batted at those positions at least 40 times in the period since Duminy's debut. There are 73 batsmen in this list, and 69 of them have better averages than Duminy's. The only ones with poorer averages are Mohammad Ashraful, Lahiru Thirimanne and Daniel Flynn, and all of them are not in their current national teams.
Till about three years ago, South Africa's batting was in good hands, with Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith still around to add to the runs made by Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers. Since their retirements, though, the batting has looked iffy: Amla had a poor 2015, while Faf du Plessis hasn't contributed consistently either. Quinton de Kock and Temba Bavuma have shown promise, but the onus is on the senior players to play bigger roles and show greater responsibility. South Africa have shown a fair amount of patience with Duminy; it is now time for Duminy to justify the faith placed in him.
South Africa's batsmen in Tests since Jan 2013*
Player Tests Runs Ave 100s/ 50s
 AB de Villiers  26  2180  54.50  7/ 10
 Hashim Amla  28  2088  53.53  7/ 7
 Faf du Plessis  28  1412  35.30  3/ 6
 Dean Elgar  25  1268  38.42  4/ 3
 JP Duminy  18  648  27.00  2/ 2
 Vernon Philander  21  466  27.41  0/ 3
 Quinton de Kock  9  440  44.00  1/ 2
 Temba Bavuma  10  429  39.00  1/ 2
 Stiaan van Zyl  11  355  27.30  1/ 0
* Excludes batsmen who have retired

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter