Bumpy road back to form

2010-03-06 00:00

AMID the orgy of run-scoring in India, there is JP Duminy, who these days can scarcely buy a run.

In days gone past, Duminy would have had a chance to return to domestic cricket, work the demons out of his mind and play himself back into form.

As it was, Duminy was available for the Cape Cobras in their Stan­dard Bank Pro20 semifinal se­cond leg match where his team were unsuccessful, denying him one or two more knocks for the franchise.

Ideally, he will then stay in Cape Town and play for the Cobras in their remaining two SuperSport Series four-day matches in March, working on his technique between games, so that his confidence and form return ahead of the World Twenty20 in the West Indies and the Test and ODI tour of the Caribbean.

Instead of that largely pressure-free environment, though, he will be flying back to India to earn the second instalment of his $950 000 a season fee for playing for the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League.

The IPL ends just five days before the start of the World Twenty20.

I suppose Cricket SA could pull rank, as the Australian Board did with some of their players ahead of the 2009 IPL, and insist that Duminy plays for his franchise — but I can’t see that happening. In any case, it would not be fair on Duminy to stop him earning more in six or seven weeks than some people make in a lifetime.

It is, though, a classic illustration of the saying that everything comes at a price. In this case, the shortterm international career prospects of a supremely talented player are being put at risk, although the financial compensation is huge.

You have to feel for Duminy, who started the season with a question mark about his ability to play short-pitched fast bowling aimed at his ribcage only to become totally flummoxed by a succession of off-spin bowlers.

It started with Graeme Swann in the England Test series, with Duminy falling to balls spinning away from him.

Then Harbhajan Singh beat him with deliveries that went straight on, a trend continued by Yusuf Pathan in Gwalior.

When he got bat to ball against Swann he was caught at slip, when he missed against Harbhajan he was leg before wicket. When he pushed forward he missed the ball, when he went back to give himself more time to play it, he missed again.

As they say, a return to form for a classy player is just around the corner. In Duminy’s case, though, there may be a bumpy road to be negotiated before the corner is reached.

* Colin Bryden is a former cricket correspondent of the Sunday Times and current editor of the Mutual & Federal South African Cricket Annual.

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