As a batsman JP Duminy has always been a joy to watch. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/Backpagepix

Since making his first-class debut while still occupying the Plumstead High School benches, JP Duminy had it all, starting with that classy cover-drive that caused grown men to drool.

When it all worked for him he was as magnificent to watch as any batsman South Africa has ever produced, whose talents was once so masterful that it even induced the hard-nosed former Australian captain Ian Chappell to christen Duminy “the next Ricky Ponting”.

Yet, somehow, for some reason, Duminy never quite realised the depth of the gifts that had been bestowed on him or the expectations of many.

And on a Friday evening ahead of the official start of the domestic season in South Africa, Duminy decided the time has come to pack away his first-class cricket whites for the final time, thus retiring from Test cricket in the process.

“After long and careful deliberation, I have decided to retire from first-class and Test match cricket with immediate effect. I have thoroughly enjoyed the privilege and opportunity to represent my country in 46 Tests and the Cape Cobras in 108 first-class matches over the last 16 years,” Duminy, 33, exclusively told Independent Media.

“It is an experience that cannot be replaced and one I will always cherish. Test cricket has always been the pinnacle and I’ve been fortunate enough to experience some memorable highlights with the Proteas and also in first-class matches with the Cape Cobras.

“In recent years I have been privileged to be a senior member and custodian of a special team environment and culture that has made me very proud.”

The highlights, of course, will be Duminy’s very first two Test matches; a magical unbeaten half-century on debut at the Waca that helped South Africa chase down 414, which was extraordinarily surpassed the following week when the young man from Strandfontein humbled the mighty Australians with a glorious 166 at that coliseum of cricket, the MCG, to power the Proteas to a maiden Test series triumph Down Under.

It was a seminal moment, which led to Mark Nicholas, on commentary, exclaiming “You beauty, you superstar” when Duminy had reached his century.

Nicholas’ eternal line proved to be a burden too heavy for Duminy to carry over the past decade, notwithstanding the fact that an Achilles tendon rupture and further ailments such as side-strains, hamstring strain and a cut hand severely hampered his progress.

Equally, Duminy suffers from a chronic knee problem which forces him to train with an ice pack to ease the pain. But despite all these troubles, there were fleeting celebrations of his talent with additional centuries in Wellington (2012), Port Elizabeth (2014), Galle (2014), Perth (2016) and Johannesburg (2017).

Duminy has always been frank about his shortcomings and the first to admit that when he wasn’t pulling his weight.

It was this type of honesty that endeared him to his Proteas team-mates, and especially captain Faf du Plessis, who said in England after Duminy’s last Test at Lord’s earlier this year: “If we were to take a picture of what it means to be a team player, he leads that everyday, he’s a great team man.”

Duminy is not lost to South African cricket entirely though. He will continue playing limited-overs - both 50 overs and T20 - with the 2019 World Cup in England right at the top of the priority list.

In line with his philanthropic work - Duminy has done sterling a job over the past couple of years with the Mitchell’s Plain primary schools through his JP21 Project - he has offered his services “as a mentor/consultant” to the Cape Cobras coaching staff to assist with the development of the young players in the region.

Duminy will also still be in seen action in the inaugural Global T20 League this season, where he will lead the Cape Town Knight Riders.

Weekend Argus

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