JP and ‘Jimmy’to bal­ance things out

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - LUN­GANI ZAMA

THE name that will leap out im­me­di­ately from the Proteas Test line-up to­day is the one that sits in the heart of what cap­tain Hashim Amla calls the “busi­ness end”, the mid­dle­order.

JP Du­miny is back and sud­denly there is a dif­fer­ent look to the side as a whole. The tail, which con­cerned many ob­servers in the Mo­hali Test, sud­denly shriv­els with Dane Vi­las at seven in­stead of six, and the mix of three dif­fer­ent spin­ners with three quicks gives Amla plenty of op­tions.

It is of­ten taken for granted but Du­miny’s ab­sence has been keenly felt, in both the one-day side and in the first Test. Ex­pe­ri­ence and a cool head un­der pres­sure aside, South Africa’s top all-rounder pro­vides that vi­tal in­gre­di­ent – bal­ance.

“It’s great to have JP back in the side. Com­ing in where he does, around five, six and some­times seven, he is in the busi­ness end, really. He has great know-how, and his off-spin has be­come really im­por­tant for us,” Amla said.

The dou­ble blow of los­ing Ver­non Phi­lan­der and Dale Steyn has forced the tourists into a reshuf­fling of the pack, but Amla main­tains that this is all part of the process in­volved in do­ing well for ex­tended pe­ri­ods as a squad.

“To win a se­ries, it takes 15 play­ers and not just 11. Los­ing Dale and Ver­non is a big blow, but we are lucky to have qual­ity crick­eters to back them up. Our bowl­ing, es­pe­cially, has great depth,” he said.

En­ter Kyle Ab­bott. The lanky Dol­phins seamer is still wait­ing for the ink to dry on his stamp from cus­toms, but he is go­ing straight into a Test match of much sig­nif­i­cance, for him and his side.

“Jimmy”, as Ab­bott is known, has had few op­por­tu­ni­ties to show­case his tal­ents, of­ten sus­pended in that awk­ward wait­ing room be­tween fran­chise cricket star and in­ter­na­tional reg­u­lar.

And yet when­ever the ball has been chucked to him, he has stepped up. Re­mem­ber his Test match de­but? He burst onto the scene with seven wick­ets against Pak­istan. And then he had to wait and wait for his next bite of the cherry. A full year, it was.

His ODI ca­reer has also had the start- stop rou­tine. But Amla expects that Ab­bott will be just fine.

“We have a po­tent bowl­ing at­tack to back-up. Kyle will be ready. He has been one of our out­stand­ing re­serve bowlers over the years, and he has done ex­cep­tion­ally well when he has got an op­por­tu­nity to play.”

Ab­bott would have smiled all the way from Ban­ga­lore In­ter­na­tional Air­port to the Ritz Carl­ton on ar­rival, as the grey blan­ket that has hemmed in this vi­brant city all week should play into his ball-curv­ing hands.

At worst, he should be a hand­ful. At best, as Amla said cheer­fully, Ab­bott might just enjoy a fairy­tale and pro­duce some­thing like that fa­mous de­but against In­dia’s favourite neigh­bours.

“Kyle has some of what Vern brings, in terms of his con­sis­tency on where he lands ball. So he will give us con­trol, and a lot of know how about his game. He’s a won­der­ful pro, so I know that even straight off the plane, he will be ready,” he said.

That set­tles that ques­tion, then. Amla wasn’t too both­ered about the weather pre­dic­tions for Ban­ga­lore, even as lo­cals were con­cerned that each day may be in­ter­rupted by some sort of shower or thun­der­storm. “We are not too wor­ried, be­cause those are things that are out of our con­trol,” the skip­per added.

The Proteas, even with­out their two new-ball op­er­a­tors, have plenty of mo­ti­va­tion for this match. Los­ing in three days hurt. They are also keen to prove their adapt­abil­ity to all con­di­tions, and reaf­firm their sta­tus as the world’s best trav­el­ling Test side.

They may not have all their stars, but they have that key in­gre­di­ent in win­ning on the sub­con­ti­nent. They have their bal­ance back.


I REALLY GOT ALL-ROUND SKILLS: JP Du­miny dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion ahead of to­day’s Test match against In­dia at the M Chin­naswamy Sta­dium.

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