JP Duminy had initially been sentenced to a full Test tour of England but has been released early due to good behaviour and bad batting.
Duminy has been around a while. He made his one-day international debut in 2004 and his Test debut in 2008. Somehow he has played 46 Test matches, which is both more and fewer than you would imagine.
He has at various times been a batsman, a quasi-all-rounder and just a name on the team sheet. He averages 32 with the bat and 38 with the ball.
Newspapers have not for the most part expanded on his release from the South Africa squad, so we’re unclear whether it was intended as a kick up the arse, an act of mercy, or a merciful kick up the arse.
There’s also the possibility that it’s an out-and-out discardation, in which case ‘release’ seems even more euphemistic than normal.
That is… stellar. Particularly when you consider that he made three off 58 balls in the first innings.
He wasn’t alone either. You can see the full deadbattery in scorecard format here. South Africa were playing for a draw to secure the series and succeeded in fine complete-absence-of-style. Rangana Herath opened the bowling and delivered 45 overs.
30 of them were maidens.
Not so long ago, this South Africa batting line-up looked stronger than Geoff Capes crossed with a grizzly bear. Now? Not so much.
Ashwell Prince isn’t an opener; Hashim Amla might as well paint a bullseye on his front leg; while if JP Duminy could ever get past his first ball, we might get a chance to watch him being found out by the short ball. Even AB De Villiers is looking a bit rocky.
Batting averages only tell you what’s already happened.
The big names are generally old bastards. Who’s next?
Ross Taylor, New Zealand, age 25
Ross Taylor tends to look like he’s the man who’s going to win the match for New Zealand shortly before doing something slightly spacky. Pretty soon those fifties will become hundreds and those hundreds will become double hundreds.
JP Duminy, South Africa, 25
Duminy has barely started in Test cricket, but has the reassuring habit of being exceptional whatever the format. Twenty20’s just for sloggers, is it? Then why is Duminy so effective. The best batsmen are generally the best batsmen in all forms of the game.
AB de Villiers, South Africa, 25
Yes, he is only 25. There are already bowlers in world cricket who’d sooner try and insert a bat handle into their urethra than bowl at vehement letter-C denier, AB de Villiers.
Michael Clarke, Australia, 28
Recently voted ‘most overrated player’ by readers of the Herald Sun, Michael Clarke must be rated really, really, phenomenally highly. Quite clearly following in the footsteps of Border, Waugh and Ponting as an Aussie captain who’s mint with the bat.
Gautam Gambhir, India, 28
Test average after 18 Tests: 36, with one hundred. Test average in the next nine Tests: 94, with seven hundreds. Gautam Gambhir is up and running.
JP Duminy’s Test record is improving: one in his first innings, 50 not out in his second and 166 in his third.
The 166 kicks in the balls that he gave Australia’s bowlers were particularly useful as they helped produce 275 ball kicks for South Africa’s last three wickets. Those are some heavily kicked balls in that Aussie bowling attack.
It strikes us that South Africa are turning into the kind of side who you can never quite get on top of. You think you’re on top of them, then you look away for a moment and suddenly they’re standing above you calmly hefting a huge club with a nail in it while giving you a raised eyebrow look that says ‘our turn now’.
We’re also struck by the fact that Australia’s bowling attack only ever seems to have the feeblest, soapiest grip on the opposition these days.