JP Duminy will come in for David Miller in the one confirmed change to the South African XI for their World Cup match against Sri Lanka on Friday at the Riverside Stadium and the left-handed batsman admitted it will be a bittersweet moment for him.
Duminy announced before the World Cup that he was retiring from ODI cricket, but there was no sentimentality in terms of selection with the 35-year-old playing the first three games, against England, Bangladesh and India, before being jettisoned despite scoring 45 in the second match.
A groin injury suffered by Miller against Pakistan has now opened the door for Duminy to return for a swansong.
“The last thing I wanted was to play three games and then not be selected, but it’s the nature of the beast and no-one is guaranteed selection. So it’s bittersweet because I wanted to end on a high but unfortunately it’s not meant to be. I could have done better personally and I need to stress how disappointed we all are as a team, because the performance has been pretty dismal.
“I was hoping for another opportunity and now there are two games left so it will be nice to end off playing in the World Cup. But the biggest disappointment is the team not making the playoffs and contending for the title. We’ve let down all our fans back home, even though there’s been a lot of effort and preparation, we tried our best to go out with a strong mindset, but we just haven’t executed our skills,” Duminy said at Riverside on Thursday.
South Africa have barely fired a shot in anger in this tournament, but if they lose to Sri Lanka it will only be their third defeat in their last 19 matches against the island nation. Sri Lanka, however, are still in contention for the World Cup semifinals and Duminy said it would not be any motivating factor for the Proteas to land a blow to Sri Lanka’s hopes. South Africa desperately need to win just for their own sakes as it will slightly lift the mood after a tournament which has come like a hammer blow to the sport back home.
“It’s not about a grudge or kicking them out of the World Cup, our most important mission is just to play good cricket, the brand we know we are capable of. If we do that then we have the best chance of beating them. We’ve played good cricket recently against Sri Lanka both there and at home, so we know we can beat them. If guys have one foot on the plane it means they take for granted what a huge privilege it is to play for this team.
“Ultimately it’s a decision you have to make for yourself, as much as the leadership group has spoken about it. For me I 100% agree with the being freed up to go out and play your natural game route. It’s almost like you’ve been given licence, it’s like you’re a kid again, with a smile on your face, playing to enjoy it. You’re out having fun with your friends. That’s what I want my final game to be,” Duminy said.