Opinion: Thank heavens for Duminy…

Blog Opinion

With the South African tour to Sri Lanka concluded, and the Proteas on their way home with a mixed bag of results, the main thing that stuck out was the fact that JP Duminy was the best thing since light-up bails.

With the South African tour to Sri Lanka concluded, and the Proteas on their way home with a mixed bag of results, the main thing that stuck out was the fact that JP Duminy was the best thing since light-up bails.

The one-day series was a real disappointment for the visitors, losing four-one and the bowlers suffering badly at the hands of Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan. They recovered well though to take the T20s two-one.

Duminy was South Africa's best batsman in the ODI series, making 97 in the fourth game even though it ended up being in vain. But it was the T20 series where he shone brightly, and was a driving force in the series win, earning the Man of the Series award.

With the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh next year, featuring similar conditions to Sri Lanka, Duminy's presence in a sometimes-second-stringy side will be invaluable, especially as he is able to perform with both bat and ball.

In the T20 series he made two half tons in three games, each time rescuing the knock after the openers failed. Quinton de Kock and Henry Davids did not cover themselves in glory as openers, and until the third T20, Faf du Plessis was abject.

It can be argued that Du Plessis's wonderful 85 in the final game was partly thanks to Duminy, as they put on 112 together in 12 overs and Duminy was by far the anchoring and calm partner, ending the knock unbeaten on 51.

Also, Duminy's off-spin is a valuable commodity in the shortest format, and his average with the ball is under 20. In the first T20 he added three wickets to his half century, paving the way to their first limited-over series win in Sri Lanka.

As for the rest of the side, there will need to be some serious inward reflection once they hit African soil, as the ODI series was beyond poor and if we're honest, the T20s were won by a few individual efforts.

When the ICC event rolls around next year, the debate will once again begin about the Proteas' inability to add silverware to their cabinet. Will this team be the one to take them to the finals, and on to a win?

Of course, it's safe to assume that, barring injury, AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Du Plessis and Duminy will be on the plane to Tigers country, and if David Miller continues to impress, he too will be handed a ticket.

But what of Davids? In the three matches he made just eight runs in total, pretty much nullifying the good start he made to his international career, when he made two half tons in his first three matches. He just could not cope with the Sri Lankan in-swing.

De Kock, who averaged only 13 in the T20s and top scored with 27 in the ODIs, is also a question mark, though slightly less so. He's much younger than Davids, and the selectors are clearly trying very hard to make sure the baby-faced wicketkeeper is fully blooded into the side, as gloveman and batsman.

Then we have the bowlers. Premier paceman Dale Steyn was in Hollywood during this tour, unable to play due to injury and his absence was sorely felt. The attack was often without that fire-power required, and Morne Morkel was left to shoulder the seniority burden.

Lonwabo Tsotsobe was disappointing in the ODIs, aside from one game where he took four of his six wickets, and he went for plenty of runs in both series. His consistency will need to be rapidly improved upon, because he has the talent to demolish an order when he's fit and firing. Also, his fielding, not great at the best of times, descended to farce in the third T20.

Speaking of poor fielders, spinner Imran Tahir made his T20 debut on this trip, playing in all three games. He took a wicket in each match, and was relatively economical, and if he can avoid becoming a joke again, he will be worth investing in, if only for his silly celebrations.

<b>Lindsay du Plessis</b>

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