JP’S ODI num­bers

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

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.

ISHARA S. KODIKARA, GALLO IM­AGES

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.

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