As AB de Villiers contemplates his return to Test cricket, JP Duminy’s position at No 4 comes under the spotlight.
The lefthander played the majority of his matches at No 6 which saw him produce a mixed bag of results. In 19 matches he averaged 25.91 with one century and four fifties.
In the absence of De Villiers for the New Zealand series in 2016, Duminy has moved(Photo by Duif du Toit/Gallo Images) up the order to No 4, where he has settled well. In nine matches (including his debut in that position, one match against New Zealand in 2012) he averaged 49.64, including three massively important hundreds and two half-centuries.
When reinstated to No 4 last year, he scored 88 and helped SA to a series win in the second Test. In Australia, he hit 144 in the second innings to help SA secure a vital win in Perth. He played a vital role in the whitewash against Sri Lanka, scoring an excellent 63 in the first Test in PE before he rashly surrendered his wicket with a sweep. At the Wanderers, he reached his peak with a Man of the Match performance, scoring 155 off 221 balls with elegance while shepherding Hashim Amla through a torrid patch.
Former Proteas opening batsman Ashwell Prince, until recently a national selector, believes that it was a mental issue which caused inconsistent performances as a No 6 and not technical changes which sparked his current positive run of form.
‘I don’t think his performances are due to technical changes. It is about his positive mindset. He is a gifted player and possesses such good hands.
‘That is why he plays the ball so well through the covers and past mid-off. People can say you are one of the best in the world, but it is about JP walking on to the field now and believing it and performing,’ he added.
‘In terms of his technique, I did see something slightly different in that he played with a small trigger movement at the Wanderers.’
Amla was enthusiastic in his praise for his partner at the Wanderers, where they put on 292 for the third wicket.
‘When he is on song he is beautiful to watch,’ he said.
‘His judgment is great, his timing is immaculate and it’s always a pleasure to bat with him. I think everyone is happy at the way he is batting at the moment. He got a hundred in Australia, and a 60 in the first innings in PE and was struggling to find that consistency, but I think he’s finding it and is doing exceptionally well.’
AB de Villiers’ return to the Test side will present coach Russell Domingo with a problem. Especially as the selectors have indicated that they will retain Temba Bavuma, despite his struggles with the bat at No 6.
De Villiers has performed much better as a No 5 where he has played the majority of his matches. In 50 matches, he has an average of 61.42 and has scored 13 tons and 15 half-centuries. But the captain has first call on that…
PHOTO: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images