Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
11 Oct 2017
7:57 pm

Will a warm-up game be the birth of a new JP Duminy?

Heinz Schenk

The Proteas batsman gets his international season underway in Bloemfontein on Thursday ... as a retired Test player.

JP Duminy is now a limited overs specialist. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images.

When JP Duminy leads out a South African Invitation XI in a 50-over warm-up against Bangladesh on Thursday, it won’t be a low-key moment for him.

To be honest, it’s supposed to be a re-birth of sorts.

Last month, the mercurial Proteas left-hander decided to retire from Test cricket after being dropped in the series against England.

Many felt it was a long time coming and the 33-year-old’s Test average of 32.85 probably justified his course of action.

Duminy always seemed under pressure to cement his place in the five-day format and was later on the first head to be on a chopping block.

It drained him mentally to such an extent that he even skipped this year’s Indian Premier League – after South Africa’s tour to New Zealand – to recharge his batteries and be ready for the United Kingdom.

Needless to say, it didn’t work out.

“It was a very tough to decide to quit Test cricket. But after walking off at Lord’s, I realised change needed to happen,” Duminy said on Wednesday.

“I knew I was going to be dropped and guys were putting up their hands for my place. I needed a different path.”

Now, Duniny is committed to being a limited overs player, where he’s always had his bread buttered far more thickly.

He seems to enjoy playing against the white ball more and, like various other experienced Proteas, has a burning desire to turn a World Cup victory in 2019 into his last hurrah.

More importantly, having the relative freedom of now only focusing on one-day cricket could mean Duminy delivers the type of consistent performances he is capable of.

Thursday could be an indication … or another false dawn.

“I’m looking forward to a few good years in white ball cricket,” said Duminy.

The national selectors will also be keen to see how AB de Villiers goes.

There’s a new wave of optimism after the world-class middle order batsman decided to give up the captaincy of the ODI side in order to play Test cricket again.

De Villiers did play in the Titans’ most recent Sunfoil Series match, a draw against the Warriors in Benoni.

However, he only managed scores of 5 and 32 in the match.

Some time in the middle would put him in good stead for the one-day series, which starts on Sunday in Kimberley.