JP Duminy Reaffirms His Talent, Now Must Embrace Senior Role for South Africa

Chris TealeFeatured ColumnistJuly 17, 2014

South African cricketer Jean-Paul Duminy celebrates scoring a century during the second day of the first test cricket match between Sri Lanka and South Africa in Galle, Sri Lanka, Thursday, July 17, 2014. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)
Eranga Jayawardena

It is perhaps hard to believe, but at the age of 30, JP Duminy is one of South Africa’s more senior batsmen in terms of age and experience in all forms of cricket.

With Graeme Smith gone from the international stage and Jacques Kallis now only playing one-day internationals, Duminy needs to step up and be a leader for the Proteas.

He made some progress toward that role in his side’s first innings against Sri Lanka, as he made an unbeaten 100 from No. 8 and played well with the tailenders.

It was his first Test century in Asia and only the fourth of his career in the game’s longest form and shows what a talented player he is.

However, in his previous 24 Tests, while he has shown flashes of what he can do, he has not yet managed to string together a consistent run of scores.

This becomes apparent in his batting averages. He has a mark of 27.10 in home Tests but an average of 53.54 away from South Africa.

Here is a player capable of succeeding and doing so in unfamiliar conditions, but he is unable to translate that talent into regular form for his country.

Eranga Jayawardena/Associated Press

That was very apparent in two of his first three Test innings: in Perth and Melbourne against Australia in 2008.

At the WACA, Duminy stroked an unbeaten 50 to help his side take a brilliant victory by six wickets as they successfully chased 414 to win.

In the next game, he underlined his talent with 166 in South Africa’s first innings in Melbourne, a score that helped them take an enormous lead over the Australians.

Looking through the rest of the innings Duminy has played, he has shown himself capable of making solid starts but has failed to convert to the frustration of himself and his supporters.

Perhaps his biggest issue has been loose shot selection, which has proven costly as he makes a strong start but then cannot capitalise.

He has said himself that he has struggled against spin in his career, hence his very low average in Asia but also part of the reason he has had problems against the top nations.

Eranga Jayawardena/Associated Press

However, at the start of the ODI series against Sri Lanka, he told Firdose Moonda of ESPNCricinfo that the issue was behind him, so he should now be in the perfect place to be a senior batsman.

After all, this is a player who was apparently in the discussion to replace Smith as South Africa’s captain despite his relative lack of Test matches compared to other candidates.

With a role as a spin bowler coupled with his batting, there is plenty of responsibility now for Duminy as the Proteas move forward into something of a new era.

This innings today hinted that the left-hander is more than capable of making an impact with the bat and can be someone that South Africa counts on for regular runs.

Having been inconsistent up until now, perhaps his first ever Test century in Asia can be the catalyst for great things.