Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Duminy to defy SA's tournament troubles in new role. At 37, Duminy is at the start of his journey as an elite coach, a job he said had been offered to him
At 37, Duminy is at the start of his journey as an elite coach, a job he said had been offered to him
You might have thought a dozen disasters would have been enough to make JP Duminy think twice about toying with the prospect of an unlucky 13th. The six editions of the T20 WCs, three Champions Trophies and three World Cups he played in all ended badly for South Africa. But he will be back in the dressing room for the imminent T20 WC, this time as a “strategic consultant”.
What did that mean? “It's trying to add value wherever I can,” Duminy said in an audio file CSA released on Friday. “It's not necessarily honing in on a particular department or skill.” Instead, Duminy said, he would use his playing experience to “contribute with… understanding and being aware of things that may unfold”. Familiarity helped: “I have played against many of these cricketers and played with them, and I have relationships with the players and staff that are in the mix.”
Duminy played the last of his 326 matches for South Africa at the 2019 World Cup, and hadn't expected to be back in harness so soon. “I was packing my bag and I realised I needed to go back into the garage and take out my South African blazer and tie. It dawned on me that I didn't think I would be pulling that out of the cupboard two years after retiring. That was an emotional moment.”
At 37, Duminy is at the start of his journey as an elite coach, a job he said had been offered to him. “It's not something I ran after; it found me. My role as Lions [batting] coach [since June], I was asked to come into the environment. Even in this role, I have been asked to come in.”
It seems he will spend a lot of his time ensuring South Africa's human dynamics are as they should be: “How can you leave somebody in a better place? People want to feel valued and like they belong. Having had 15 years of [international] playing experience, I truly understand that. It doesn't matter who you are, whether you have played 100 games or one game, there's always an inherent need to feel like you belong to something bigger than yourself.
That's what the Proteas are about. It's a representation of 60-million people and there's great responsibility in that. Just talking people through that and understanding what that responsibility looks like. To give your best every day can be challenging, particularly when we are in bubble life and things are restricted.”
He will also help define roles: “That's what players want. They want to make sure that when they go out and face pressure moments there is clarity. We want to make sure we provide them with enough information for them to find the answers. If we are in a position to ask the right questions, we can collectively find the right answers.”
That would make a change. South Africa have been to 22 ICC tournaments and won only one, the International Cup – the forerunner of the Champions Trophy – in Bangladesh in November 1998. They've had 17 knockout games and prevailed in just five. But they've won 63 of 101 round-robin matches. Thus they are less than half as successful when losing isn't an option compared to when it is. It's an indictment of the performance under pressure of a side who have tended to go to tournaments at or near the top of the rankings. Duminy himself played in six sudden-death games, of which his team lost five.
Currently South Africa are behind England, India, Pakistan and New Zealand in the T20I rankings. But, based on the non-IPL players' camp in Durban, Duminy felt his charges could turn a corner in the UAE and Oman in the coming weeks.
“I am very optimistic about what I've seen over the last couple of days; I love what I am seeing,” he said. “I am loving the conversations that are happening and the clarity, but also there is this belief within each other which is great to see. And, in many ways, also contagious.
“You feel like guys know what they want to do and they believe they can go all the way. That's what you want to see going into a World Cup. I've been to a World Cup and we had those experiences and we haven't gotten over the line. But if ever there is a chance, we just need a small glimpse and a hope and you never know.”
The South Africans are on an upward slope after an alarming decline. They have won four and lost one of their last six series across the formats, including three T20I rubbers. Before that, starting with the 2019 World Cup, they had won only two of 14 series. All of their recent successes have come under Mark Boucher, who was appointed coach in December 2019 and would seem to have turned his team around after presiding over eight losses in his first 11 rubbers in charge.
Duminy joined the backroom staff in the wake of the resignation of assistant coach Enoch Nkwe in August, a development that has been swept into at times unfair criticism of Boucher's appointment – along with his implication in a dressing room culture during his playing days that was tainted by racism.
On the field, matters have taken a turn for the better. South Africa blanked Sri Lanka 3-0 on the Asian island last month, when they showed the willingness and ability to embrace spin – which accounted for just less than two-thirds of the overs the visitors bowled in the series, and claimed almost three times as many wickets as seam while conceding nearly three runs fewer an over. Similar conditions will present themselves at the T20 WC in the UAE and Oman.
Might South Africa be approaching a state of grace they haven't known in almost 23 years? If they want to know what that feels like, they should ask their coach. South Africa won four of the 10 tournament knockout games in which Boucher played.
One of them was the International Cup final in Dhaka on November 1, 1998. Boucher batted at No. 3 and had faced only six balls when he was stumped off Carl Hooper. But that doesn't change the salient truth that he is the last remaining link to South Africa's only tournament triumph. Can he make that count in his first tilt at a trophy as a coach?