• Duminy makes his mark

    As cricket.com.au counts down the 15 best Test centuries in Australia since 2000, we look at nine to seven and see where South African JP Duminy comes in.

    The first entry of a South African is at No 12, where Hashim Amla’s 196 vs Australia at the WACA in December 2012 is picked, followed by AB de Villiers at No 10.

    Duminy makes the cut at No 7 for his 166 vs Australia at the MCG in December 2008.

    Bowling attack: Brett Lee, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz
    Percentage of team score: 166 out of 459 (36 per cent)
    Next highest score: 76
    Match situation at start of innings: South Africa 126-4, trailing by 268 runs
    Match situation when innings completed: South Africa 459 all out, lead by 65 runs
    Result: South Africa won by nine wickets

    When South Africa coach Mickey Arthur fronted the press following the second day of the 2008 Boxing Day Test, he did so with his side holding the series lead but significantly behind in the match.

    Almost 200 runs behind, in fact, and with just three first innings wickets left after Australia had at one stage reduced the Proteas to 184-7 in reply to the home side’s first innings of 394.

    Arthur, though, was confident that the tourists could overcome the odds and fight their way back into the match.

    ‘If we can maybe try and add another 70, that’s going to take us around to lunch time [on day three],’ Arthur said.

    ‘We’ve got it all to do, really. We’ve got to find a way to get ourselves out of this situation.’

    Just 24 hours later, JP Duminy sat in the same chair having done exactly what his coach had asked him to do – and then some.

    The left-hander had helped the Proteas add another 261 runs to their total, almost 200 more than Arthur’s seemingly optimistic target, helping them to a 65-run first innings lead.

    He finished with 166, his first Test century in just his second Test, and shared a remarkable 180-run partnership with No 10 Dale Steyn, which was just 15 runs short of the all-time record for the ninth wicket.

    So impressive had the young star been that the famously parochial MCG crowd stood and applauded warmly as he celebrated his century, even though he had taken the match away from the home side and brought up triple figures with a boundary off the bowling of local hero Peter Siddle.

    The crowd stood again when Steyn fell for a brave and crucial 76, but Duminy wasn’t done yet. He added a further 28 runs with No 11 Makhaya Ntini, of which the tailender contributed two, meaning South Africa’s final four wickets had added a record 318 runs.

    Apart from the faith he place in the tail, the patience shown by Duminy – who had represented his country in white-ball cricket for four years before his Test debut – was the feature of his innings.

    He spent more than seven-and-a-half hours at the crease, played out 249 dot balls and scored 60 singles, 43 of which were tucked on the leg side.

    His stroke play became more expansive as the innings progressed and the Australian bowlers tired; he drove fluently through the covers and straight down the ground, pulled strongly through midwicket and cut beautifully square of the wicket.

    The home side missed some chances on that third day – notably when Michael Hussey was blinded by the sun and unable to get his hands on a high ball – but none of them came from Duminy’s blade.

    It was a chanceless performance and one that was the foundation of an incredible nine-wicket win.

    It secured the Proteas their first-ever series victory on Australian soil and ended the home side’s 16-year streak without a series defeat in their own backyard.

    Such was the strength of South Africa’s batting line-up that Duminy had only got his chance in the side when Ashwell Prince was ruled out due to a thumb injury.

    He celebrated his inclusion with a match-sealing fifty in a record-breaking run chase Perth and then a series-clinching century at the MCG. Rarely has a player entered the Test arena in such an incredible fashion.

    ‘I probably came out here thinking I wouldn’t play, being that I’ve travelled now for a year without getting a game,’ Duminy conceded.

    ‘But stranger things have happened in life.’

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