Duminy: Playing to Make an Impact
From a smashing Test debut in 2008 to being relegated to the sidelines for two years and then returning to suffer a serious injury, Duminy’s international career has been dramatic. However, his determination have been remarkable through all of it.
“I got a taste of international cricket in 2004 and then got left out for three-four years. I guess, at that time, I got an understanding of what is needed to play at that level,” says Duminy to Wisden India. “It was then that I realised I needed to reform my game.” Currently part of Delhi Daredevils, Duminy has been the highlight of an otherwise ordinary campaign. “What makes the tournament a wonderful experience is the fact that you mix with different individuals, different cultures, so you learn a lot. Things may have not gone well for us, but I’m hopeful we can rectify our mistakes.” “You need to be an all-round player these days,” he continues. “You can’t go out and decide you will only slog, or you will only play in a certain way. You need to adapt quickly. You have to innovate, because the game evolves at a fast pace and you have to keep up with it … you can’t play catch up.” What is surprising though is the fact that despite being in the mix for close to a decade, he has managed to play just 24 Tests. For someone of his talent and ability, there is a sense that he may have underachieved. But that isn’t how Duminy reflects on how things have panned out. For him, the chances he had outnumber the ones he didn’t. One such opportunity, came in 2008 during South Africa’s tour of Australia. An injury to Ashwell Prince paved the way for Duminy’s debut at Perth. His first outing was far from memorable as he made just one. For three days, South Africa were under the cosh. After conceding a 94-run lead, they were set a target of 414 to win the Test. Duminy made an unbeaten 50 and South Africa scripted the second highest successful run-chase in Tests.
In his second test, on Boxing Day, Duminy made 166. South Africa were tottering at 184 for 7 in reply to Australia’s 394. His 180run stand for the ninth wicket with Dale Steyn put them ahead and set the tone for a historic series win.
“Even today, people ask me if I rate the 166 (as his best), but I always tell them the 50 I scored in the second innings on debut was definitely a notch higher because if not for that knock, the second one may have not come,” he says. That series catapulted Duminy into stardom. And he rode a wave of success before a string of poor performances resulted in his axe in February 2012. The road back to the top was arduous, but Duminy didn’t lose hope. “In hindsight, I think I lacked the adaptability factor and needed to work on a lot of areas of my batting and fitness to be able to become a better player,” he points out. Duminy made his comeback during the tour of New Zealand in March 2012, and was subsequently picked for the England tour in June that year. But, just then, Duminy was dealt a big blow. He ruptured his Achilles tendon during the tour of Australia. “There are times when you begin to think if you will ever play again, particularly if it is a serious injury. What if someone who replaces you does well?” says Duminy. “So, at that time, I decided to have a positive outlook and not worry about all these things.” With injuries and the up-and-down performances firmly behind him, Duminy is now enjoying a phenomenal run. At 30, he would be central to South Africa’s plans post the Graeme Smith era.
JP Duminy has been the Delhi Daredevil's best player this season