JP Duminy has to contribute more regularly at No 5, if he wants to hold on to his place in the ODI team.
Stats aren’t everything. If stats were everything, then England all-rounder Ben Stokes, for instance, would be nowhere near the England limited-overs side, and most certainly wouldn’t have been sold for $2.16-million in the IPL auction. Based on stats, JP Duminy shouldn’t have been batting at No 4 in the Proteas Test side, but he’s produced some sensational knocks this summer.
They might not tell the whole story, but stats are still an apt representation of a player’s career. Much as many of us questioned Duminy’s stats at Test level before his subsequent rise in form, it’s perhaps time to delve a little deeper into his ODI stats too. With a global tournament in England fast approaching, it’s worrying reading.
A combination of playing in England and playing against subcontinent teams spellt a recipe for disaster for Duminy. In 11 matches in England, Duminy averaged 16.50. In 67 matches away from home, Duminy averaged 31.21. In 60 matches against South Africa’s group-stage opponents, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India, Duminy averaged 28.79. The main difference between the World Cup and the Champions Trophy is that there are no ’second tier’ sides in the Champions Trophy. That’s not good news for Duminy, who has never scored a century against a tier one side, with his four tons coming against Zimbabwe, thrice, and one against the Netherlands. His average against tier one sides is 30.96 from 135 matches.
He produced a couple of decent half-centuries against Australia in October, but since then he’s tailed off yet again. Duminy was the only batter in the top six who didn’t score a century against Sri Lanka. With an average of 23, and a strike rate of 74.19, and a high score of 28 not out, against a side that the Proteas completely outplayed, Duminy is quite simply not contributing enough, and there are no excuses for this.
Duminy is a talented player with a lot of experience – of that there is no doubt. He’s also a positive, selfless team man in the dressing room, and this shouldn’t go overlooked. But when he was dropped for the second and third Tests against England last year, it was a long time coming. He then went and scored an unbeaten 260 for the Cobras, and was drafted straight back in. Was he given enough time out of the national set-up? We’ve seen players like Quinton de Kock and David Miller spend some time out of the side. This is a crucial period, because it allows for reflection and improvement, and we’ve seen the results in both of these players. Duminy is different in that he’s no longer a spring chicken, but his international career could well be prolonged if he spends some time out of the set-up and finds some domestic form.
That raises another question. Cricket South Africa berated Rilee Rossouw for the manner in which he departed, because CSA had spent a lot of time and money ‘investing’ in him. Duminy has been in the set-up for years now – he’s firmly entrenched in the CSA family. Perhaps it’s not quite as simple as it would seem at surface level to drop him and waste that ‘investment’? Can you simply bring in, say Theunis de Bruyn, as a sudden replacement, someone who’s unfamiliar with the set-up?
For me, De Bruyn should be in that ODI squad. He’s played two happy-go-lucky T20 internationals and he’s been in the Test squad, but why he’s not being used as an extra option in that ODI middle order is beyond me. His 132 for the Knights last week was colossal and reaffirmed that he’s in the form of his life across the formats. He’s a quality player who can’t really do too much more now.
That No 5 spot is up for grabs. Duminy isn’t doing enough at the moment to suggest that he should be there. Yes, there’s a Champions Trophy coming up and momentum is key. But you should also be fielding the best possible XI at your disposal. So the question must be asked: Is Duminy the best No 5 in the country?
In the current squad, David Miller should be at No 5, and Farhaan Behardien should be at No 6. Behardien, seemingly under pressure every time he walks out to the middle, has been adding genuine value to the role he’s been given. He’s been asked to bat with six overs left and found the boundaries from ball one. He did that against Sri Lanka, and he’s an energetic presence in the field too. People asked for his head once again when he got that golden duck in the first ODI against the Black Caps, but did you see that ball from Tim Southee?
Duminy has four matches against New Zealand now to find some form and sort this out. His usefulness as a sixth bowler gives him some leverage, but it’s with the bat that we need to see results. We need all 11 players to be clicking in the Champions Trophy if the cup is to be lifted for the first time in 19 years, but at the moment, he’s not.