Shamik Das

Sunday, December 28, 2008

JP emulates WG, CB and AB with knock of his life to turn Test on its head

As easy as JPD: Jean-Paul Duminy celebrates his superb hundred at the MCG today

Melbourne, second Test, third day: Australia 4/0 and 394 trail South Africa 459 (Duminy 166, Steyn 76, Harris 39; Siddle 4-81) by 61 runs

JP DUMINY scored one of the greatest centuries in Test history today to stun a packed MCG crowd as South Africa went from staring down the barrel to favourites in the space of six absorbing hours.

Duminy struck a magnificent 166 in only his second Test to rescue the Proteas and put the hosts in a spin, turning a 196-run deficit at the start of play into an incredible 61-run lead at stumps.

The last three South African wickets reaped 274 priceless runs, with Paul Harris scoring 39 and Dale Steyn hitting a career-best 76, sharing in the third-highest ninth-wicket stand in Test history with Duminy of 180 runs.

"I probably came out here thinking I wouldn't play, being that I've travelled now for a year without getting a game," joked perennial-reserve Duminy after being last man out, walking off to a standing ovation and the embrace of both sets of players.

"But stranger things have happened in life. Ashwell [Prince] gets hit the day before the first Test on the thumb and fractured finger and there I was in the Test.

"It probably will happen [that I will be dropped]. If Ashwell's fit to play I'm sure he will play. But I'm just thankful for the opportunity. I've got a taste of Test cricket so I'm just looking forward to the next game."

The staggering rise of Duminy - his hundred in Melbourne came on top of the nerveless half-century he hit in Perth to see the tourists to victory last week - may have come as a surprise to some, but to historians of the great game, JP's success was only a matter of time.

WG Grace  CB Fry  VVS Laxman  AB de Villiers

JP, WG, CB, VVS, AB: what is it about players known only by their initials that makes them seem destined for success? One struggles to think of a single player known only thus who wasn't a cricketing genius. An overused compliment admittedly, but in these cases entirely appropriate.

There's something that says "hey, look at me, I don't need no first name, jus' call me by my initials", from the playground to the cricket ground. You can just imagine them in school, knowing how good they'd be, demanding to be named only by a couple of letters, almost always ending in an "eeeee" sound.

Arrogance is a given, of course, but all great sportsmen need a touch of arrogance. Show me a man who doesn't bristle at losing and you show me a loser. Think Tim Henman. Ouch! Nice guy, good technique, no shortage of talent - but he lacked temperament; he lacked belief, confidence and, yes, arrogance, the knowledge in his own head that he is the greatest and is going to prove it.

But the key, as always, is not to take it too far, to do a WG, who, as legend has it, used to pick up the bails after he'd been bowled, put them back and carry on as if nothing had happened, the bearded doctor informing bowlers that "the crowd hasn't come here to see you bowl, they've come to see me bat!"

However, when it comes to all-round sporting prowess even WG was outdone back in the day, by one Charles Burgess Fry, a world class cricketer, footballer, rugby player, athlete and acrobat, and in later life a leading politician, teacher and publisher. Peerless!

For VVS, AB and JP cricket alone will suffice, the rigours of the modern game making it impossible to for them to try and emulate their illustrious Victorian and Edwardian predecessors.

And for Duminy, if South Africa go on to win this match and take the series, his finest hour may already have come, and not often can that be said of a player in only his second match.

Crininfo: Latest from the second Test
July 2008: An ode to AB


Anonymous Anonymous said...


21 January, 2009 20:00


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