Few players in South Africa's history have brought as much talent to the game as JP Duminy. But, among them, few will leave having accomplished as little.
Much was promised when he scored 166 in Melbourne in December 2008 in only his third Test innings to help South Africa clinch their first series win in the format in Australia. Alas, not nearly enough has been delivered: when Duminy retired from Test cricket in July 2017 he had only six centuries and eight half-centuries to show for his 74 innings in whites. He has all the strokes. What he doesn't have are the runs.
Scoring 22 runs in five innings in his debut ODI series, in Sri Lanka in August 2004, was enough to see him banished from the international scene for two years. He also missed the 2007 World Cup and had reached 50 only four times in 38 white-ball innings when he made his Test debut in Perth in December 2008 because Ashwell Prince had broken his thumb. A fine 50 not out in the second innings was the precursor to his magical moment in Melbourne.
Four half-centuries in six innings in the white-ball series that followed suggested great things, as did the unbeaten 73 Duminy made against the Australians in the first innings at Kingsmead just more than a month later. But, except for an unbeaten 111 in an ODI against minnows Zimbabwe in Centurion in November 2009, that would be his last foray past 50 for 24 innings. Since that innings, and heading into the 2019 World Cup, Duminy has scored eight more centuries in Tests and ODIs — but that's scant reward for the 254 trips he has made to the crease to score them.
The secret to Duminy's longevity is his off-spin bowling, which is a cut above part-time though not good enough to elevate him to allrounder status, and his swift fielding, which makes him a threat to batsmen despite his seniority.
The 2019 World Cup will be his last chance to polish his legacy to a lustre it should have had for much his career. He has the talent to do so, like he always has had. It's time to put it to better use.