DURHAM – South Africa are fulfilling their obligations today. They are in the idyllic surroundings of Chester-le-Street because the fixture list insists. It is a dead rubber. Their World Cup is over regardless of the outcome of today’s clash against Sri Lanka.
The only positive is that the fear of losing that has consumed them over the past month can now be shaken off. As an American gospel duo famously sung, now is the time to “take the shackles off my feet so I can dance”.
JP Duminy is certainly a disciple of that mantra.
“Is your foot on the plane or does that give you a sense of freedom? I 100% agree with the freedom. Just go out and play your natural game, your naturally-gifted game,” Duminy, who is returning to the line-up for the injured David Miller, said yesterday.
“And that’s not a cop-out. That is just an understanding that you have almost the licence to just go out and play with the freedom that you were allowed to play with almost as a young kid and play with a smile on your face, play to enjoy the game and that’s the kind of mentality that I certainly want to end my international one-day career with.”
Duminy has been forced to watch the chaos that has unfolded from the sidelines after being dropped after the first three games. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t felt the pain along with his teammates, especially as the left-hander is retiring from ODIs after the World Cup.
Duminy, therefore, felt compelled to offer a heartfelt apology to the nation.
“I think it will be amiss of me not to mention how disappointed we are particularly letting all our fans down back home. We obviously want to apologise to the public and the South African fans for letting them down. You know when you represent your country it is always a proud moment and you understand that you represent 50, 60 million people, that is a proud moment in itself,” Duminy said.
“When you put in performances like that, you know, you in a way almost feel ashamed of that.
“It’s a bittersweet moment for me, you know, wanting to end off on a real high in terms of international one-day cricket, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be and I think the important thing for me is when you reflect post-World Cup as to see where I could have done better, but also you’re kind of in a space of awe.”
SA may not have much to play for, but few begrudge Duminy exiting the ODI arena with a couple of fine innings to be remembered by.
Likely teams for the Riverside today
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, Aiden Markram, Rassie van der Dussen, JP Duminy, Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Kasigo Rabada, Lungi Ngidi/Beuran Hendricks, Imran Tahir.
Sri Lanka: Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Perera, Avishka Fernando, Kusal Mendis, Angelo Mathews, Jeevan Mendis, Dhananjaya de Silva, Thisara Perera, Isuru Udana, Nuwan Pradeep, Lasith Malinga.