On October 11th last year, Ian Chappell wrote on Cricinfo that JP Duminy had “shown he has the right stuff to take over from Ponting when the time comes.” and in further comparing him to Ponting added that “Lately, the word “champion” has been in vogue, but it’s not overstating the case to say we’re privileged to be watching two batsmen of that ilk, one current and the other future” – heady praise indeed.
To be fair to Chappell once we’ve scraped the egg off of his face, this was only one of many rave reviews for Duminy who had burst onto the scene with a nerveless unbeaten fifty on debut in Perth last year as South Africa chased down a mammoth 414. Not content with this he then made a game-changing 166 in the next test as the Proteas clinched the series at the MCG.
After that he continued to impress in all forms of the game and was one of the stars of the inaugural Champions League tournament in India.
My, how things have changed. Since then Duminy’s scores in six tests against England and India have been 56, 11, 4, 0, 0, 36, 7, 9, 0 and 6. That is 129 runs at 12.9, and his career test average has fallen from a lofty 49 to a paltry 29. He even suffered the ignominy of being known as ‘Swann’s bunny’ during the recent home series against England.
The South African selectors now have an intriguing decision to make. Do they keep faith in Duminy’s immense promise in what appears to be a straight decision between him and Prince now that Alviro Petersen has made a century on debut? Funnily enough it will probably be his bowling that keeps him in the side. He turns the ball more than Paul Harris (who doesn’t) and has developed a knack of being a partnership breaker.
Even if he manages to hold onto his place many questions remain. Has he been found out by international bowlers now that they have had time to study his technique and identify his weaknesses? Or is it just an understandable blip (albeit a large one) following a phenomenally successful first year in the limelight? Only time will tell.
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