JOHANNESBURG - Melbourne in 2008 seems so far away from JP Duminy right now, it may just as well have been someone else’s life.
Eight and a half years since that epic innings of 166, which helped turn around a Test and set up an historic series win, Duminy’s Test career appears to be over. It has been a wholly unfulfilled one. He’s not matched his prodigious talent with consistent productivity. At Lord’s in the first Test against England he looked lost.
He scratched his way through a 14-minute stay at the crease in the second innings that brought him two runs and then slapped a ‘buffet ball’ from Mark Wood to square leg. He stood bemused in the middle of the pitch staring at his bat, perhaps thinking it won’t be used in a Test match again.
There’s little justification in picking Duminy for the Trent Bridge Test. For his own well being, he has to sit out that match. He is a man currently with no confidence in his ability and the opposition know it.
Naturally, his teammates are desperate for him to get it right. Skipper Faf du Plessis, who is also a very close friend, knows he must leave sentiment aside when the decision about Duminy being axed is made. Du Plessis remarked that Duminy, at 33 with 294 international matches to his name - which includes 46 Tests - knows he can’t continue to hold down a starting spot.
“He will be the first guy to know that he needs to score runs for the team,” said Du Plessis. “He is desperate to do well. But he knows that at the end of the day, it’s about runs and he understands that if it comes to a position where someone else needs to be looked at, he’ll be the first to acknowledge that. He is a crucial part of our senior player group and he’ll put the team interests above himself.”
Du Plessis has to slot back into the middle order for the second Test, which means either Duminy or Theunis de Bruyn must sit out. It’s very hard to justify picking Duminy after the latter showed good fighting qualities in the first innings at Lord’s when he scored 48.
It was only De Bruyn’s second Test and while a solid contribution, it was nowhere near the standard nor had the impact of Duminy’s performance in his second Test. Duminy set the bar very high for himself with that innings at the MCG eight years ago. He’s only fleetingly matched that level since - and the time has come for the Proteas to look for someone else.