CAPE TOWN - JP Duminy has made some life-changing decisions over the past 12 months. Realising the dream of wearing the Baggy Proteas Green had reached its sell-by date was top of the list. For the ultimate team man like Duminy, it would have been heartbreaking to walk away from a group of people he considers family.
Next on the list was to assure his actual family, which now also includes a second baby girl Alexa-Rose, that it was safe to travel to Pakistan for the PSL T20 finals where he led Islamabad United to the title.
But like most things in life, these decisions have a way of all coming together and it all formed part of a greater plan that has led to Duminy reaching arguably the most important resolution of his entire international career.
“I thought long and hard about it, and realised I have nothing to lose, so let me soak this up and just go out and play with flair. The freedom to express yourself is something that often gets spoken about, but how to actually implement it?
“I potentially didn’t believe that I could play that way consistently. But now, it’s almost like I have unearthed a new lease of life in cricket. I’ve just told myself to run with it and see where it takes me. I mean, if I get out for nought, what is the worst that can happen to me? Get dropped? I still go home to my lovely wife and daughters.
“Also going to Pakistan and doing well, that was a really nice thing for me. It was a big confidence booster for me in terms of my leadership. I captained the semi-final and final, so it was big thing for me winning trophies. The quality of cricket was really high. Being put under that pressure and then responding under that pressure.”
Duminy 2.0 - or is that indeed 3.0 - was certainly a revelation during the white-ball leg of the Proteas tour to Sri Lanka. Not only did he top the South African run-scoring charts with 227 runs at an average of 56.75 to earn the Man of the Series award, but the manner in which the runs were accumulated raised far more eyebrows.
There was a definite plan each time Duminy walked to crease. Tentative lunges were replaced with positive footwork - backward or forward - and a previous cluttered mind was exchanged for complete clarity of thought.
It was total commitment to be the aggressor, and not the self-effacing 20-year-old that had made a forgettable international debut on the island all those years ago. Duminy had come full circle and was ready to embrace the culture Proteas coach Ottis Gibson and captain Faf du Plessis are trying to instil, which will hopefully lead to World Cup glory in England in 10 months time.
“It is something that not only myself, but Ottis and Faf, have been speaking about in the environment for a while. Playing a more aggressive brand of cricket,” Duminy said. “The important thing now is to find the consistency between the two extremities of over-confidence and conservatism. It is about finding that perfect medium. It is always going to come down to consistency. Because there is risk attached to it, so when we don’t play well, people are going to criticise us. But as a team we have to buy into it."
Duminy has seen plenty of coaches during his time with the national team. He admits they have all tried to unlock the potential that has only been fleetingly seen on the international circuit, but it seems that in Gibson has found the elusive key.
“Something what Ottis often says is: ‘You’re going to get out, but it’s about what you do before you get out’. As simple as that sounds, it basically translates to go out there and make a massive impact. I have wholeheartedly taken that on board and let’s see where it takes me.”
Proteas fans are hoping for it to carry on all the way through to what will hopefully be a balmy Sunday afternoon at Lord’s on July 14 2019 - which just happens to be the date of a certain World Cup final.