JP Duminy has got another first-ball duck. It's never easy walking to the middle with your side five down for just over 100 chasing 402, but Duminy's identical dismissal as during the Eden Gardens Test last week begs the question: is he really that good?
His first couple Test innings were undoubtedly crucial contributions, and they got Ian Chappell purring about Duminy being a future great. Sure his debut Test innings was a nerveless gem and his follow-up century in the next game a match-turning knock, but if you look closer to that ton at the MCG you'll notice that the Australians didn't attack him and were more content to let Dale Steyn at the other a lot of time at the crease. Brett Lee only bowled 12 balls to Duminy; the combined threat of Hussey, Clarke and Symonds bowled over 20% of the balls Duminy faced. There were loads of runs to be had to fine leg and third man. And, most keenly overlooked by those eager to praise Duminy, was the fact that he was nowhere near a quality spinner. With all due respect to Nathan Hauritz, in December 2008 he was nowhere near the Test bowler he is in February 2010, and even his current avatar is hardly world class.
Graeme Swann gave him a working over in the four Tests at home - to the extend that he was labeled Swann's bunny - and Duminy was Harbhajan's to be had in the two Tests in India. He resembled a walking wicket, unsure about his footwork to spin, the bat coming down late and often feeling for the ball, unsure of whether it would turn or not. Its very evident that he cannot play good spinners. In specific, offspinners.
Let's get down to the cold stats: Duminy has scored 73 runs in his last nine Test innings (an average of 8.11) and, out of his 20 Test innings, he been out before reaching 20 on 14 occasions. His career Test average has fallen from 49 to a paltry 29. South Africa's management have put up the 'form is temporary, class is permanent' statement outside their doors for a few months. They may need to do a whole lot more soon.
It's easy to say he is suffering from a crisis of confidence, but at this stage it appears he has been found out by bowlers at the highest level. This could be more than just a sizeable blip after a phenomenally successful first season at the top.
Sophomore albums are a bitch. Just ask Tracy Chapman. But Chapman took time off, slowed down the rate of production, and came back with a hit album in 1995. Duminy too has cruelly realized that following up and living up to hype isn't easy. He can start, with some help from South Africa's selectors, by being given time off to sort out those technical flaws.