As Jean-Paul Duminy walked in for the pre-match media interaction, the handful of South African scribes gathered at Emirates Riverside looked excited.
“Does it mean you are going to get a game tomorrow (against Sri Lanka)?” one of them asked straightaway. Duminy, who has so far featured in only three of South Africa’s games in the World Cup, smiled and said: “We will find out later after practice. Team selection is after practice, so I’m hoping that there is an opportunity, yes…”
The 35-year-old Duminy will hang up his boots from international cricket after the World Cup and he would ideally want to feature in the team’s remaining two matches. “Two games left, it would be nice to end playing a game in a World Cup,” he said.
He agreed that it is ‘disappointing’ to warm the bench at a time when the team has failed to qualify for the knockouts for the second time since 1992. “The last thing I would have thought is playing the first three games and being left out, particularly after a retirement call. But that’s the nature of the beast, you know. You are never guaranteed a selection,” Duminy said. “Nobody has an opportunity to be selected if you are not putting in performances. It's a bittersweet moment for me, you know, wanting to end off on a real high in terms of international one-day cricket, but unfortunately it wasn't meant to be.”
“If I had played three games and we had made a playoff, or fought for the title, I think anyone, particularly myself, would be in a lot happier position,” Duminy, who is playing in his third World Cup, said.
The all-rounder revealed that South Africa put in a lot of effort in preparation, but “unfortunately, we haven't been able to produce”.
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“We obviously want to apologise to the public and the South African fans for letting them down. You know when you represent your country, it is always a proud moment. You understand that you represent 50-60 million people, that is a proud moment in itself.
“And when you put in performances like that, you in a way almost feel ashamed of that. But we know that it's not all lost, even though yes, it’s a World Cup and I believe that this team will come back stronger,” Duminy said.
Cricket South Africa had come out with the Vision 2019 plan in a bid to break the World Cup jinx. When asked what went wrong, Duminy said, “In terms of our preparation, were guys fresh? Were guys technically sound? There's a whole host of things that one can reflect on and point fingers at, but I'm always going to come back to the fact that at this level, you are accountable for your own game.”
“There are a lot of mature guys in this team who have been around for two or three World Cups. Unfortunately, we haven’t had the answers for the questions that have been posed at us this World Cup and that's a difficult pill to swallow,” the seasoned campaigner said.
After the press conference, Duminy batted for a while at the nets — perhaps an indication of his availability for Friday’s fixture.