Sharjah – JP Duminy returns to the first-class scene with an added skill – his spin bowling – and is relishing his return to the Proteas team for the opening Test against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, starting on Monday.
“For me it’s like getting back on a bike and riding again,” he said on Monday. “I’m looking forward to my return to the longer version of the game – this is what cricket is all about and to play Test cricket once again is just great.”
But first for the 29-year-old Duminy will be the three-day warm-up game against a strong Pakistan A side at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Duminy, who averages 37.57 from 17 Tests and who has scored two centuries and four 50s, wants to get into the middle not only to get his batting going but would like to offer the Proteas a little extra with his off-spinners.
He has been used often in the one-day and the Twenty20 formats with great success. And he is likely to be given a responsibility especially when partnerships begin to build during the two-match Test series against Pakistan.
“For me it’s been a long wait to get back into the longer version of the game, but I’ve played some cricket in the past six months – after my recovery – but that was mainly in the limited-overs format. It’s helped me get back into the groove. But I’m pleased to hear that I’ll regain my spot in the Test side for next week’s encounter and that I will also be used as a bowler,” Duminy said after the South Africans had completed their second net session in hot and humid conditions.
Duminy has been out of the South African Test side for just on 11 months after rupturing his Achilles tendon, but is now ready to resume battle and slot into the side, which has batting down to No 7. Duminy returns to take over from Dean Elgar while Faf du Plessis, who originally replaced him will move down the order and slot in at No 7.
“I’m pretty happy to be slotting back in. I had a long layoff but the last two months has been really good from a performance point of view. I am excited to be back in Test cricket again. We haven’t played in six months, everybody is geared up for the series and we want to hit the ground running again,” he said.
Duminy spoke highly of the help given to him by spin-bowling coach Claude Henderson, and he believes if he does get the opportunity of turning his arm he will be able to do a job in the bowling department for the Proteas.
“Claude’s spoken to us (the spinners) about lines and length in these conditions – they need to be adhered to or you could get punished. There’s a lot of responsibility in it (my bowling). I’m a firm believer in outcomes taking care of themselves. I’m not going to put too much pressure on myself by trying to bowl miracle balls – success will come if you put in a good performance,” he said.
Duminy believes the two-match Test series will be competitive and the fact that South Africa beat the Pakistanis 3-0 at home early this year will mean nothing. “What’s happened in the past is long gone. This is a new series and I believe they will be very competitive this time around,” he said. “They are a hugely experienced side.
“I don’t think our 3-0 win over them at home will play too much of a role. We came here expecting to do well especially as we are No 1 in the world. We are going to be under pressure for sure. The quicker we accept that, the easier it will be.”