JP’S ODI numbers
Batting record ODIs: 99 Innings: 90 Not outs: 21 Runs: 2794 Highest score: 150* Average: 40.49 Strike rate: 84.38 Hundreds: 3 Fifties: 15
JP Duminy, for so long seen as the X-factor player in the middle-order, has been handed a responsibility that befits his stature in the team nowadays.
Now married and secure in his role within the national team, he is an integral part of the Proteas’ core. And Domingo has given him the key job of coming in at first-drop.
The new Proteas coach clearly has designs on making him a key role-player in the team; a three-in-one player, if you will, contributing with bat, ball and his tactical nous.
“JP is a guy who has scored a lot of domestic hundreds playing up the order, and we want him to take that into the Proteas set-up now. He has the full range of shots, so it’s a matter of him getting comfortable in the role,” Domingo said this week.
For his own part, Duminy is excited by the new challenge, as it allows him to be part of the building process, before exploding into life later on in the innings.
“I suppose the key is just being clear in the roles we have in the team. It wasn’t an easy wicket to play on, but I thoroughly enjoyed the new challenge,” the elegant left-hander said after his 92 in the Proteas’ warm-up fixture in mid-week.
Domingo was also pleased with the outcome, taking as much confidence out of the manner that Duminy handled a tricky situation up front, as well as his ability to “kick on” at the back end of the innings.
“It’s something that I have given a lot of thought to, putting JP up the order,” Domingo let on this week.
“It gives us a new dimension up front, and that top three looks really solid now. There is a lot of experience there, and the guys can adapt to different match situations, which is vital.”
Domingo, as dogged in approach as the day is hot in these parts, is quite happy for the Proteas to play traditional cricket up front, blunting the opposition early, and then looking to inflict damage later on.
“I guess you could say we are going back to the old-school way of doing things, building an innings nice and slowly, then picking it up towards the latter overs. But it’s important to have a strong foundation at the top, which is why Alviro Petersen is also back in the side. You need that experience.”
Duminy has also proved that he is no longer a one-trick pony. With the ball, he has grown into more than just a lucky charm, hoping to buy a wicket. He has become a genuine cog in the bowling wheel, especially in favourable conditions.
In England, he was AB de Villiers’ trump-card at times, slowing the run- rate down when India were on the charge, but also chipping in with key breakthroughs during the tournament.
“It’s going nicely with the ball, you know. I’ve always felt I can play a good role for the captain and for the team, and the Champions Trophy went quite well.”
His role with the ball will be even more crucial in the subcontinent, especially as he provides a different set of questions for batsmen, as opposed to the Proteas’ pair of left-arm tweakers.
“Hopefully I will get that opportunity again in this series, and I will be looking to take it with both hands.”
Claude Henderson, the Proteas’ spin consultant, has been impressed by Duminy’s development as a bowler, and said it was a massive feather in his cap.
“The great thing about JP is that he is so enthusiastic. He is the ultimate team man, in the sense that he would do anything for this team,” he beamed.
“To have a batsman who can suddenly give you an extra bowling option is massive, and you can see that he genuinely wants to learn and improve all the time.”
Henderson recalls his first encounter with Duminy, who was then a youngster earmarked for big things as a batsman in a Western Province side crammed with national players.
“You could see that this kid was going to play for South Africa. He just had it. With the ball, he also had a lovely action, but I remember that Harbhajan Singh was just coming through at the time.
“So JP came to the nets one day, and he was busy trying to copy Harbhajan’s action. We called him “Bobbe-Jhan” for the rest of the season!”
Henderson says it’s easy to forget that Duminy, at 29, has already been playing top-level cricket for the last 10 years.
“It’s a long time, hey. And he is still 29. That’s a lot of knowhow to tap into, and you can see that he is definitely one of the guys who leads by example.”
Domingo, for one, will be eager to keep that tap flowing freely.
READY FOR ACTION: Proteas’ cricketer JP Duminy looks focused during a practice session in Colombo earlier this week. The elegant left-hander says he is enjoying the challenge of batting at No 3 for South Africa.