Opinion: Duminy is South Africa's unwanted hero

Fielder throws cricket ball in

JP Duminy is not the hero South Africa wants, but he is the hero South Africa needs - and the driving force behind his regenesis could be the key to World Cup glory. 

Duminy has never enjoyed the full support of Proteas fans, but he is a player of undeniable ability and a player who has again found himself, having quit the longer formats of the game.

The year 2017 was a bleak one for Duminy, who struggled for form across all formats. He averaged 26.09 that year, scoring just 287 runs across 15 ODI innings.

Since quitting the longest format, Duminy has been able to spend a lot of time working on his game alongside long-time mentor Shukri Conrad.

Conrad was the Cobras coach back in 2008, when Mickey Arthur called Duminy into the squad - and the coach has played a massive role in shaping the left-hander's career.

Duminy has always been a player who was capable of remarkable success, but also prone to self-doubt. A lack of confidence would see Duminy's batting performances failing to live up to his talent.

That Duminy has found his fluency now is no coincidence. Conrad's voice echoes in Duminy's ears right now. Duminy is still at the crease and has a calm about him that was not present as a younger player. He has unlocked his natural game, though, and is more aggressive than ever. 

Cricket South Africa's National Academy head coach Conrad would have done little technical work with Duminy, but his signature is all over the batsman's return to form. The 34-year-old has gone back to basics, which for him means recapturing the cavalier style that caught Conrad’s eye initially.

With the World Cup in sight, Duminy has something to fix his eyes on as his career winds down - and an opportunity to cap a career of struggles with the sport's ultimate prize.

Greater challenges than Sri Lanka lie between Duminy and the glory of powering South Africa to a maiden cricket World Cup title. A home series against Pakistan will show how Duminy and the Proteas stack up against other contenders for semi-final places in 2019.

If Duminy can retain his current aggressive streak and keep on posting scores consistently, it will give the Proteas' top-order more freedom to launch assaults up front in the manner of England and India.

The way Duminy has been playing will be a boost to Proteas fans in a funk after the retirement of AB de Villiers one year away from the World Cup. 

If Duminy can keep Conrad in his ears and block out the boo-boys, he could be the man to break the Proteas' World Cup curse.

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Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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