In and out of South Africa’s Test team, Jean-Paul Duminy is the linchpin in the shorter formats of the game, especially in T20. The 31-year-old left-handed batsman, who bowls off-breaks, is likely to be given a full role in the ICC World Twenty20. Minutes after checking into the Trident at Nariman Point on Thursday, Duminy said the mood in his country is upbeat.
“There is a lot of confidence within South Africa. So we are looking forward to this tournament because we have had so much success in Twenty20 in the last 18 months. Yes, we had a hiccup losing to Australia, but we are taking a lot of positives out of it,” said Duminy who has a good experience, playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The Cape Town-born Duminy felt that Indian pitches could bring him into play in a big way. “The Indian pitches are going to give me a lot of opportunities. Hopefully I can make them count. I feel very refreshed coming to a world event like this. It’s about your form in the day, it’s not about the form coming into the tournament,” said Duminy who played his part in South Africa’s wins at Dharamsala and Cuttack against India last year.
Like most South Africans in the present team, Duminy feels that his team cannot be called chokers any more. “We have taken massive strides in these kinds of events. In the past, we buckled under pressure, but if one looks at the last Twenty20 and 50-over World Cups, we lost only in the semifinals. We were outplayed by better teams. But we walked away with our heads held high then. It’s when we did not play well that we let ourselves down. But we competed in those semifinals and gave ourselves a good chance of winning. Unfortunately we have not got over the line.”
Most observers of the game have predicted that the sixth ICC World Twenty20 will be a very open tournament. And that Duminy agrees with. It is because there is so much T20 cricket played around the world. “Guys have gained experience to play this game in different conditions and different ways. Many teams have a chance of doing well. I guess that’s what makes Twenty20 exciting. No one team is seen to have the potential to win the title. The nice thing though is that the teams that are ranked in the top three or four give themselves a chance coming into the tournament. We are quietly confident of the fact that we have a chance.”
Touching upon the mindset of the batsmen in T20 he said: “It’s different for every team. Talking about our team, I guess it’s all about understanding what is required in the team situation, game situation, and where you find yourself if you are batting at the top of the order, what is required if you are batting at No. 4. This is where the game is evolving; understanding the different quadrants of the game. If you can come on top of those moments of the game, you can give yourself a good a chance of winning.”