Johannesburg - JP Duminy is excited by the extra responsibility heading his way, serving as a key lower middle-order batsman, second spinner and senior figure in the change-room as the South African cricket team head to Sri Lanka on their first tour without the long-serving triumvirate of Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher.
In fact, the 30-year-old feels that the increase in responsibility has not been a sudden thing: Duminy has gradually been taking on more and more of a senior role in the South African team, becoming a key player as his batting and bowling have grown to maturity.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge, but it hasn’t just started now. It started a few months ago already, especially when Graeme retired. There’s already been added responsibilities, definitely in the shorter formats, and I think it brings the best out of me and my game.
“But this season will determine whether I can sustain that, but I think I’ve played enough cricket now to know what leadership is about,” Duminy said yesterday at the Cricket South Africa Centre of Excellence in Pretoria, where the Proteas were having a two-day fitness camp.
Duminy admitted that the Proteas have been stung by the loss of their No1 Test ranking to Australia and he said they needed to start strongly in the three-match ODI series that precedes the two Tests against Sri Lanka.
“Obviously we don’t have a good record playing Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka and it’s going to be a tough ask. But we have a nice squad and it’s going to be important to start well in the ODIs. That’s a very important aspect of the tour and we need to get our games right heading into the Tests, where we want to get that No1 ranking back,” Duminy said.
Batting at No6 (he deserves to be treated as one of the top six with either Stiaan van Zyl or Quinton de Kock at seven), Duminy can put money on the fact that he is going to face plenty of spin in Sri Lanka, an area of weakness previously which he has now greatly improved.
“Playing spin is going to be crucial and I have had an issue with it in the past, but I’ve put that behind me. I’ve definitely improved a lot from three or four years ago and I feel confident facing spin now. I feel like I now have good game plans facing spin and my experience in the IPL has improved me too,” the stylish left-hander said.
There is a sense of calm now about the veteran of 115 ODIs, 55 T20 internationals and 24 Tests and Duminy says life is not going to be radically different as the Proteas enter a new era under Hashim Amla.
“The team culture is there already and there’s a great balance in the squad. Small things will change, but we understand what we stand for and the guys stepping into the side have the freedom to express themselves and there are still several guys who have been around for a long time.
“We want to dominate the international circuit; yes, there have been big losses from the team, but we see it as a great opportunity for the new breed of players,” Duminy said.