JP Duminy believes he still has a lot to offer the Proteas top order, and rightly so writes KHALID MOHIDIN.
With the new season underway, the Proteas have two weeks to prepare for the first home international of the season, which also marks the start of their World Cup preparations. Zimbabwe’s impending visit offers the Proteas their last experimental series before facing the higher-rated Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as they look to build momentum for next year’s showpiece event.
There’s no doubt that the Proteas have built a lethal bowling attack and, with the return of Imran Tahir and Dale Steyn to the ODI set-up, the depth and balance is limitless.
The batting department, however, is a worry, with the Proteas struggling to find the perfect order and combinations. The retirement of AB de Villiers also added to their problems, with the Proteas now struggling to also fill a vital cog in their system.
The inclusion of Christiaan Jonker into the ODI set-up hints at Ottis Gibson’s uncertainty in his lower order, while the inclusion of Reeza Hendricks in Sri Lanka showed the uncertainty with their top order.
However, Duminy believes he has the ability to play higher up the order and sees De Villiers’ departure as an ‘opportunity’ for him to express himself.
‘If you ask any batter, they would like to bat higher up the order, no matter what team you play for. You want to be batting in the top four and the reason for that is that you are getting opportunities to make an impact on the game and score big runs,’ Duminy told SACricketmag.com.
‘People come into the stadium to watch us bat – that’s what we get paid to do. That’s our role and our job, to score runs. When you get an opportunity in the top four you have to try and take it with both hands.
‘So, unfortunately, with the national team that’s where I find myself right now [No 5 or 6] but it’s about making the best of the opportunity. If I get a chance early [in the match], I need to make it count but also understanding my role in the team and give my best to whatever the team needs.’
Duminy is the Proteas’ best ever T20I player with 1,825 runs in 77 appearances, scored at an average of 37.24. His T20 domestic record is even better, having played 245 matches and scoring 5,967 runs at an average of 37.52. Both his T20 strike rates are in the 120s.
Interestingly, he showed evidence of a T20 approach while playing for the Proteas in the recent ODIs against Sri Lanka, and even admitted that playing T20 cricket has improved his ODI game. This approach has moulded his brand of cricket and the Proteas will be adopting a similar approach.
But has the new Proteas brand affected Duminy’s mindset ahead of the World Cup?
‘I will approach my game quite similar to how I have been doing. Look, the thing about the World Cup is there is no guarantee for your spot. So you have to make sure you perform series after series and on a domestic level so that you put in those big performances. That is all we can focus on.
‘Understanding that we need to be consistent with a certain mindset and game plan that you think works for you and brings you consistency. If you make it to the World Cup, you don’t change anything, that is what brought you there, so be consistent with that and that will give you the best chance to be successful there.
‘We have to believe that we can win the World Cup. If we don’t believe it, how can we expect anyone else to? I think this next season is going to give us the confidence in terms of how we play and working out a few things, especially [in terms of] the style and brand of cricket that we want to play. If we can find that, that will give us confidence going into the World Cup.’
JP Duminy full interview: